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iUfe of g>tr CJcmas ^lore 










TUomiut White, Pri 

AT THOM^E MORI mortem deplorant et ii quorum institute pro viribus 
adversabatur : tantus erat hominis in omnes candor, tanta comitas, tantaque 
benignitas. Quern ille vel mediocriter eruditum ab se dimisit indonatum ? 
Aut quis fuit tarn alienus, de quo non studuerit bene mereri ? Multi non 
favent nisi suis, Galli Gallis, Germani Germanis, Scoti Scotis : at ille in 
Hybernos, in Germanos, in Gallos, in Scythas et Indos amico fuit animo. 
Haec naturse benignitas sic MORUM omnium animis penitus infixit, ut non 
secus ac parentem aut fratrem plorent extinctum. Ipse vidi multorum 
lachrymas qui nee viderant MORUM, nee ullo officio ab eo fuerant affecti : 
ac mihi quoque dum haec scribo, nolenti ac repugnanti lachrymae prosiliunt. 

Epistola fidelis de morte Thome Mori. 



Life of Sir Thomas More - 1344 


I. The Epistle Dedicatory, of the first Edition, to 

Queen Henrietta-Maria - 347 

II. The Preface to the second Edition 351 

III. Verses on a Portrait of Sir Thomas More - 359 

IV. Copy of Inscriptions on the Painting of the 
More Family at Burford Priory, the Seat of 

Lenthall, Esq. 361 

V. Dedication of the Utopia to Cresacre More 365 
VI. Anthony Wood's Account of the More family 367 

VII. Extract from Pace, " De fructu qui ex doctrina 

percipitur" - 369 

VIII. Letter of Lady More to Cromwell 372 

IX. Chronological Abstract of the Life of Sir 

Thomas More - 374 


I. Character of Sir Thomas More. 
II. Lives of him, particularly the one here published. 

III. " Who wrote More's Life of Sir Thomas More?" an- 


IV. Account of the male posterity of Sir Thomas More. 
V. Conjectures respecting the wrong appropriation of this 



MONG the many eminent men 
who have done honour to the 
English nation, there are a few 
whose names are 

Familiar in our mouths as household words, 
and towards whom a respect is felt which par- 
takes of the nature of a personal attachment. 

They are not perhaps the greatest men of 
our country, or those whose actions and cha- 
racters have had the most extensive and most 
lasting influence on the state of society. Even 
Sir Thomas More, who is one of them, may not 
attain to the first three. Yet it is evident that 
there must be some considerable merit where 


this feeling exists ; and in respect of Sir Tho- 
mas More, though a writer of high and de- 
served reputation has lately spoken of him as 
" that too-highly extolled man/' yet it must 
be allowed by every one, that in him met many 
great and glorious qualities. 

It is not, however, the grander features of 
his character and history which occasion so 
many pleasurable associations to be connected 
with his name, as circumstances of a lighter or 
adventitious character. We see him in the 
midst of his family, as that happy group are 
transmitted in the living and speaking picture, 
by the great artist of the age ; we are delighted 
with his ingenious political romance ; we repeat 
sayings of his, in which is apparent that agree- 
able turn of humour by which he was distin- 
guished ; and we read the story of his life, told 
in a lively and popular manner, by two members 
of his own family, Roper his son-in-law, and 
More his great grandson. 

It is these circumstances which have main- 
tained towards him what we may call a national 
attachment. But whatever defects there may 
have been in his character, and whatever mis- 
takes in his public conduct, there must ever 
remain much that will command the approbation 
not only of the popular voice, but of those who 
judge wisely concerning the beauties and defects 


of human character. On an impartial estimate 
it might even be found that there is less in More 
to disturb the feeling of settled admiration, than 
in the character of, perhaps, any man who has 
been deeply engaged, as he was, in the great 
affairs of society in dubious times. But when 
compared with the time-serving people by whom 
he was surrounded, the encomium of Burnet is 
not, perhaps, too high-wrought, when he calls 
More " the glory of his age." In the profession 
to which he was educated, we see him making 
his way along a path crowded with competitors, 
to the very highest honour. As a diplomatist, 
he showed great skill. As a member of the 
council of this empire, he contributed to raise 
its glory, and to give England a weight unknown 
before in the politics of Europe. He made his 
theological knowledge bear with effect upon the 
controversies which then disturbed the nations. 
He found time also to cultivate the fields of 
polite and elegant literature. He was no mean 
scholar, and to him more than to any individual 
of the time, is it to be attributed that England 
was enabled to share so early in the reviving 
literature of Europe. What can be desired 
more for a great and venerable name ? But 
whatever he was he became by the most honour- 
able means. All was the result of genius and 
industry. There was nothing of finesse, nothing 


of the supple arts by which some men rise. 
When at the bar he interpreted more rigidly 
than others do the rule to defend only the right. 
As a judge, he was ever incorrupt, impartial, 
and averse -to the procrastination of judgment. 
As a representative of the Commons, he was 
jealous of his country's rights, independent, 
fearless. In his high stations he was above the 
love of lucre. He scrupled to receive some of 
the usual profits of his offices. At his death 
he left little to his family, or rather to those 
who stepped in between his children and their 
rights. All his moral qualities were bound 
together by a strong sense of religious obliga- 
tion. From his youth up he was one that feared 
the Lord; and by the providence of God he 
was called to give the last strong proof of his 
desire to submit in every thing to his will, by 
bending his head to the axe rather than do that 
which his conscience disapproved. 

Whether he were right in maintaining that 
there was a power on earth which, in spiri- 
tuals, was above the king and parliament, is a 
question of argument, evidence and intellect, 
not of morals ; or whether it was, as he sup- 
posed it to be, his duty to maintain the unity 
of the great Christian corporation, then about 
to be broken. But when he had come to a 
determination on these great questions, it then 


became a point of morals what his conduct 
should be. And who shall say that he acted 
wrongly in following his convictions ? He did 
not put forward his opinions ostentatiously, 
when they opposed those of the sovereign. He 
wished for retirement and repose. Nor were 
the opinions hastily adopted, or maintained 
merely with a blind obstinacy. They were the 
deliberate convictions of a cool and understand- 
ing mind ; and they were held in opposition to 
the strongest temporal inducements. Can we 
wonder that those who thought with him, re- 
garded him as " England's honour, faith's zealous 
champion, and Christ's constant martyr." And 
those who do not agree with him must allow, 
that whatever honour belongs to the man who 
is content to suffer death, rather than yield a 
point of religious faith or practice, that honour 
belongs to More. 

It is urged by the writer who has ventured 
to speak of him as " this too-highly extolled 
man/' that he was a persecutor. Alas ! this is 
the evil extreme to which a high sense of reli- 
gious obligation is always tending. More lived 
at a time when, rather than at any other period, 
zeal for the church, or against it, would be 
likely to avail itself of unhallowed weapons. 
Some of the facts, however, to which the writer 
appeals, in proof of his charge, may be ques- 


tioned, may be doubted, in the form in which 
they stand in his work. Would that the stain 
could be entirely removed from the character 
of More, and far from me to seek to palliate the 
wrong ! But if the memory of More is to be 
loaded with infamy on this account, candour 
will ask the question, who in those days had 
learned to respect the religious scruples of 
another ? And, who had taught men to draw 
that fine line between the needful defences of a 
national church, and the persecution of those 
that dissent from it ? 

The occasional coarseness which appears in 
his controversial writings admits of the same 
sort of apology. It was the allowed and ad- 
mitted practice of the disputants of the age. 

It may be regretted that Sir Thomas More 
did not sympathise with the efforts which the 
human mind was then making to free itself from 
spiritual bondage. Still looking upon him in 
his public character, seeing his integrity, his 
self-command, his piety, his knowledge, his 
wisdom, and his eloquence, rather than seek to 
reduce the feeling of affectionate veneration 
with which his countrymen, from age to age, 
have dwelt upon his memory, I would say, with 
one of his illustrious contemporaries, " Inter- 
fecistis, interfecistis, hominem omnium Anglo- 
rum optimum !" 


Many of the distinguished persons who ap- 
pear in our annals have only a public life by 
which they are known. More may be contem- 
plated by us as he appeared when retired from 
the affairs of state he sunk into the bosom of 
his family. By the light afforded us in his cor- 
respondence, the memoirs of his life, and the 
representation of the family circle, by the hand 
of Holbein, scarcely less particular and distinct, 
we enter his domestic retirement, and find there 
every thing to win our esteem and engage our 
love. Severe to himself, he was indulgent to 
others. The natural cheerfulness of his spirits, 
his sweetness of temper, his affability, and that 
not unbecoming humour Which never forsook 
him, made him the delight of his whole family, 
and his house one continued scene of harmony 
and peace. We look upon the picture which 
the great artist of the age has left, and long to 
become members of a family in which it is appa- 
rent that all the domestic virtues and graces 
were in perfect vigour. Three more beautiful 
examples of female excellence than his daughters, 
England, rich in female excellence, has not yet 
produced. His house was not the abode only 
of affection and domestic union. His retire- 
ment was into the bosom of a family that was 
highly accomplished. The severer studies of 
that house were blended with the cultivation 


of music, painting, and poetry.* Like his friend 
Erasmus, who is represented by Albert Durer, 
with a vase of flowers upon the table at which 
he is writing, More was a lover of flowers, and 
of other beautiful or singular productions of 
nature. His house at Chelsey was a little 
museum of natural history. Adjoining to it was 
a garden, with a terrace and alcove, from 
whence there was a view of the course of the 
Thames, with the city of London in the distance. 
No illustrious foreigner visited England without 
seeking an introduction to More. None de- 
parted without admiration of his wisdom, his 
eloquence, and of the generous hospitality of 
his house. There was no eminent person of 
his own country whose name we do not find 
associated with that of More ; and the most 
eminent for learning, virtues, and accomplish- 
ments, he numbered amongst his friends. 


We know much concerning him. Many of 
his own letters are extant. In the correspondence 

* In that curious tract of Richard Pace, which is full of 
notices of his literary contemporaries, " De fructu qui ex 
doctrina percipitur" Basil, 1517, it is incidentally men- 
tioned, that More learned to play upon the flute with his wife : 
" Sicut Morus meus didicit pulsare tibias cum conjuge." 
p. 35. 


of Erasmus he and his family are often men- 
tioned. The notices of him by his learned con- 
temporaries are innumerable. His own writings 
form two large volumes. His son-in-law, Roper, 
who lived in the same house with him for six- 
teen years, has left a memoir on his life and 
domestic habits which is full of curious and 
the most authentic information. Stapleton, an 
able writer, prepared a more elaborate tribute to 
his memory by interweaving with the simple 
narrative of Roper, passages from his corres- 
pondence, the letters of his friends, and the 
writings of his contemporaries. In the reigns of 
Elizabeth and James several persons appear to 
have employed themselves in translating Staple- 
ton's work into English, introducing at the same 
time any new facts, or such reflections as the 
circumstances of the narrative suggested to 
their minds. Several of these are in the Bod- 
leian and Lambeth libraries. One is printed by 
Dr. Wordsworth in his Ecclesiastical Biography. 
Another is the Life of Sir Thomas More 
which is now for the third time committed to 
the press. It is evident that Roper and Staple- 
ton are the two authorities on which the writer 
of the following Life chiefly relied : but it is 
also evident that the writer has introduced no 
inconsiderable portion of new matter, and that 
he has given to the work all the air of an origi- 



nal composition. Proceeding as it does from a 
member of the family of More, who lived at a 
time when there were still traditions preserved 
respecting him, it claims to stand as an original 
authority. Mr. Cayley speaks of this work and 
the Life by Roper as the safest guides for the 
biographers of More,* and it has been usually 
quoted as an original authority by all who have 
undertaken to write on the character and actions 
of this illustrious man. 

Respecting its literary merits different opi- 
nions have been expressed. Anthony Wood 
pronounces it to be ' incomparably well-written.' 
Grateful for the new facts which he found in it, 
he has, perhaps, pronounced too favourable an 
opinion. Jortin declares this decision to be 
worthy only such a writer as Wood. That the 
feebleness of the translations and the general style 
of the composition might not satisfy one of so 
pure a taste as Jortin, is what might be expected: 
yet there is a sincerity, earnestness and occa- 
sional depth of feeling which may atone for de- 
fects of style, and in some places the language 
may be said to rise into eloquence. Jortin adds 
that the author was ' a very fanatic.' That he 
was deeply impressed with the peculiarities of 
the catholic system is every where apparent, 
and also that he did not rise above some of the 

* Memoirs of Sir Thomas More, p. 7. 


puerile superstitions of the time. But the tone 
of the work is rather subdued than violent. The 
memory of his great ancestor was associated in 
his mind with the religious feeling. He thought 
himself honoured above all earthly dignities in 
being the descendant of such a man, the inheri- 
tor of his name, the partaker in his dying bene- 
diction. He alludes to some mysterious inter- 
course which he imagined to have passed between 
them : Secret um meum mihi !. But this may, and 
in fact does, add a charm to his work, which 
those may feel who are placed at the farthest 
distance from the point of faith at which he 
stood. These pages are Parentalia of a grate- 
ful descendant at the tomb of an ancestor who 
deserved them. 

In the two editions of this work which have 
appeared, justice has not been done to the 
author. The first was hastily and carelessly 
prepared at some foreign press. There are seve- 
ral errors which are at once apparent. There 
are many more, and some of them of considerable 
importance, which discover themselves to one 
acquainted with another text. In one instance 
an entire line has been omitted. In the second 
edition there is a superstitious adherence to the 
text of the first. The most apparent faults of 
the press are repeated : we have, worrhie for 
worthie, and clear k for death, and the text is care- 


fully set to right in the notes. This in a work 
like the present, which cannot be looked upon 
as a monument of the state of our language, is 
useless scrupulosity. In the present edition, I 
have corrected at once what were obviously the 
typographical errors of a printer but imperfectly 
acquainted with our language. I have done 
more. I have ventured upon reducing the 
orthography of the whole work to the standard 
of our own times, following in this, what has 
been done for Cavendish and other writers of 
the age of More.* 

The critical reader will also find that the 
text of the printed copies has been abandoned 
in some instances for another. Wherever this 
is done it is on the authority of a manuscript 
of the work which must have been written 
during the life of the author. This valuable 
manuscript was communicated to me in the 
most obliging manner by Mr. S. W. Singer, to 
whom the public is indebted for so many reprints 
of our earlier writers, so many valuable illustra- 
tions of them, and so much new and curious 
information in the literature, the history, and 
the arts of England. The readings of this 
manuscript, when they have been adopted, are 

* It is proper to add that two or three immaterial pas- 
sages are omitted in this edition. The most zealous assertors 
of the integrity of our old writers will not regret them. 


so decidedly superior to those of the printed 
copies, that not a doubt can remain that they 
are the genuine readings of the author. Yet in 
some instances when there was a difference be- 
tween the two, it seemed that the text of the 
printed copies was to be preferred. The text of 
this edition is therefore to be taken as the result 
of the comparison of the printed text with this 

The two former editions were printed, the 
first about 1631, the second in 1726. Another 
century has now passed : and the two former 
editions are rarely to be seen. The second 
edition is far from being of frequent occurrence. 
The first has always been among the llbri rariores. 
Fuller, who lived when it first appeared, says, 
that it is ' rare to be had,' and in the amiable 
spirit of his character remarks, that it is more 
fairly and impartially written than one would 
expect from so near a relation. Anthony Wood 
found it difficult to obtain a copy ; and Fiddes, 
who when he had finished his Life of Wolsey 

* The manuscript is a small quarto of 202 leaves. It 
contains the prologue, the verses on the portrait, and an acros- 
tical poem which is not in the printed copy. No name of any 
author is mentioned, nor is there any title page. The critical 
reader of the following Life will find some passages in which 
he will be persuaded, as I am, that we have not the genuine 
text of the author ; but I did not feel myself at liberty to give 
what is probably the true reading when there was no sanction 
for doing so either from the printed copies or the manuscript. 


began something upon that of More, was unable 
to procure it. 


Besides the injustice which has been done 
to this author by the very careless manner in 
which his work was conducted through the 
press, he has suffered a more serious injury. He 
who made this offering to the memory of his 
great ancestor, so creditable to his filial piety 
and his literary talents, has now for two centuries 
been deprived of the credit and honour which 
ought to belong to him. All later writers on the 
life of More have ascribed this work to a Thomas 
More, who was a distinguished member of the 
catholic priesthood in the reign of James I., and 
he by whose exertions it principally was that the 
pope was induced to consecrate a bishop for the 
English catholics. Anthony Wood and Dod, the 
catholic historian, have interwoven a few of the 
notices of himself which the author has dispersed 
through this work, with genuine facts in the life 
of this Thomas More, and presented the com- 
bination as the true account of this writer. 
In the title-page of the second edition, the work 
is said to be by Thomas More, who is there, 
however, converted into an " esquire ;" but it 
is evident from the preface that the same per- 
son is intended. Even the original editor, who 
produced the work within six or seven years 


of the death of this Thomas More, ascribed it 
to him, though indicating his name in the title- 
page only by the initial letters M. T. M. The 
whole current of later writers on More's Life 
is in favor of his right to this work ; and no 
suspicion has, I believe, gathered in any mind 
that this Thomas More was not the writer. I 
shall, however, now ask the question, 


Some years ago, when the attention of the 
editor was first directed upon the fortunes which 
had attended the posterity of Sir Thomas More, 
a suspicion arose that there was some error in 
the account given of them in the Athense. It 
appeared to him confused, disrupt, intricate, 
and improbable. A hasty comparison of it with 
the copy of the first edition of this work in 
the Bodleian, confirmed the suspicion ; but 
having soon after become possessed of that edi- 
tion, I was convinced that Wood had fallen 
into a great error, and had misled the many 
who follow where a writer so generally accurate 
as he is has led the way. 

But, though I was convinced that the work 
could not possibly belong to the person to whom 
Wood had ascribed it, I did not discern with 
equal clearness to what other member of a nu- 
merous family it ought to be attributed. To 


some member of the family of More it indis- 
putably belonged, for the writer speaks through- 
out of his ' ancestor/ and indeed describes 
himself as the son of Thomas,, son of John only 
son of the chancellor. But having occasion not 
long ago to consult one of those records 

Where to be born and die 
Of rich and poor makes all the history, 

a date was discovered, coinciding with a fact 
which the author relates concerning himself, by 
which the whole mystery was dissipated, and 
the true author stood confessed in clear day 
before me. Thus it is that those who are con- 
tent to toil in even the humblest of the original 
authorities of our public history are sometimes 

Anthony Wood's notice of Thomas More, 
which is the received account of the presumed 
author, follows. 

" Thomas More, born anew and baptized on 
that day of the year (6th July) on which Sir 
Thomas suffered death. This Thomas having 
the estate come to him, married and had several 
children ; but being a most zealous Catholic, and 
constantly affected to the French nation and 
crown, did at his own cost and charge, with 
unwearied industry, assemble all the English 
persons of note that were then in and about 


Rome to supplicate his Holiness for a dispatch 
of a contract between the King of England and 
Henrietta-Maria of France, an. 1624-5, which 
being done, the said Thomas, who was the 
mouth or speaker for the said English persons, 
died xi April, (according to the account followed 
at Rome,) an. 1625, aged 59, and was buried in 
the middle almost of the church of St. Lewis in 
Rome, leaving behind him the life of his great 
grandfather, Sir Thomas More, incomparably 
well-written, published (at London, I think*) in 
4to. about 1627,f and dedicated to Henrietta- 
Maria before-mentioned. Over the said Thomas 
More's grave, was soon after laid a monumental 

* A glance at the work would satisfy those who are con- 
versant with early typographical execution, that it was printed 
abroad ; and no more need to be said upon it had not Wood 
expressed this opinion, and were not the fact of its being 
printed abroad of some consequence in the solution of certain 
difficulties in its history. For confirmation of this point, see 
the accented a at p. 14 ; the apostrophized e at p. 48 and 
187; and the word Noe in the ornamented N at p. 286; 
beside several odd and French blunders in orthography and 
the division of syllables. It was probably printed either at 
Paris or Louvaine. No date of place or time, or name of 
publisher, appears in the title-page. 

f This has been since hastily adopted by all who have 
had occasion to mention this work, as the date of the first 
impression. But it could not have been printed till several 
years later than 1627, since the original editor, in his dedica- 
tion to the queen, speaks of her " hopeful issue." 


stone at the charge of the English clergy at 
Rome, and an epitaph engraven thereon. 

D. O. M. S. 

THOM.E MORO, Dioc. Ebor. Anglo, 

Magni illius Thomae Mori 
Angliae Cancellarii et Martyris 

pronepoti atque haeredi : 

Viro probitate et pietate insigni : 

qui raro admodum apud Britannos exemplo 

in fratrem natu minorem 
amplum transcripsit patrimonium 

et Presbyter Romae factus. 
Inde jussu sedis Apostolicae in patriam profectus, 

plusculos annos 
strenuam fidei propagandas navavit operam. 


Cleri Anglicani negotia 
septem annos Romae et quinque in Hispania 

P. P. Paulo V. et Gregorio XV. 
summa cum integritate et industria 
suisque sumptibus procuravit. 


de subrogando Anglis Episcopo 

ad Urbanum VIII. missus 

negotio feliciter confecto 

laborum mercedem recepturus 

ex hac vita migravit 

XL Apr. M.DC.XX.V. set. suae LIX. 

Clerus Anglicanus Moestus P." * 

1 Wood's copy of this inscription, which he received from 
an unknown hand, is in some places corrupted. It is here 


To the memory of Thomas More, an English- 
man of the diocese of York, great grandson and 
heir to the great Thomas More, Chancellor of 
England and Martyr : a man remarkable for 
probity and. piety ; who, by a sacrifice, rare indeed 
in England, transferred his ample patrimony to 
a younger brother, and became a priest at Rome. 
From whence he was sent for some years by 
order of the Apostolic see into his own country, 
where he laboured strenuously in propagating 
the faith. Afterwards he was the agent for the 
English clergy seven years at Rome and five in 
Spain, while Paul V. and Gregory XV. were 
Popes. This office he filled with great integrity 
and industry, and supported it at his own ex- 
pence. At length having been sent to Pope 
Urban VIII. on a mission respecting the appoint- 
ment of a bishop for England, and having hap- 
pily accomplished the business, he went to receive 
the reward of his labours on the llth of April, 
1625, in the 59th year of his age. The English 
Clergy, lamenting his death, placed this to his 

Wood's notice of him is for the most part com- 
piled from an account which the original editor 

given from the Appendix to John of Glastonbury, p. 655, 
where Hearne has printed it, and without reserve described it 
as the monumental inscription of Thomas More, author of 
the life of his great grandfather. 


has given of the supposed author, in a dedi- 
cation to Queen Henrietta Maria prefixed to 
the first edition. 

" The author of this treatise, eldest son by 
descent, and heir by nature of the family of that 
worthy martyr, whose life is described in it : 
had he lived himself to have set it forth to the 
view of Christian eyes, would not have thought 
upon any other patron and protector to dedi- 
ca'te it unto, than your most excellent majesty. 
For he was most constantly affected always to 
the French nation and crown, next after the 
dutiful obedience which he ought to his own 
natural lord and sovereign. And this his affec- 
tion did he manifest in all occasions, but espe- 
cially in the treaty of the happy marriage of 
your highness, with the king our sovereign lord 
and master ; assembling at his own costs and 
charges, with unwearied industry all the Eng- 
lish persons of note and esteem, that then were 
in and about Rome, and with them all (as the 
mouth of them all) supplicating to his Holiness 
for the dispatch of this most hopeful and happy 
contract, yielding such reasons for the effecting 
thereof, as highly pleased the chief pastor of the 
church under Christ our Saviour. The same 
affection did he testify sufficiently in the last 
period of his life, leaving his body to be buried 
in the French church at Rome, where with 


great content of the French nobility it lieth 

This notice and the epitaph are evidently 
the two sources from whence Wood drew his 
account of Thomas More, and he has inwoven 
from the work itself only the two additional cir- 
cumstances of his baptism on the day on which 
Sir Thomas More suffered death, and of his 
having been married and having children before 
he became a priest. 

A little more attention to what the author 
has discovered concerning himself in the work, 
would have shown that what he relates of 
himself is wholly irreconcilable with the suppo- 
sition, that the author is the person indicated in 
the epitaph and by the original editor of the 

I. It is manifest that the work was written 
after the year 1615 ; for Sir George More is 
spoken of as lieutenant of the Tower, and in 
that year he first entered on his office. Now in 
1615, and long before, Thomas More was a 
priest. There are two passages in the life which 
seem to show that it was not the work of a 
priest, but a layman ; and in the prologue, the 
writer distinctly speaks of himself as a " world- 
ling," in contradistinction to others of his family 
who had betaken themselves to a religious life. 

II. It is evident from the epitaph that 


Thomas More took upon himself the office of 
the priesthood early in life, so as to render very 
improbable the supposition that he had married 
and become the father of a family before he be- 
came a priest. There is, moreover, not the 
slightest evidence that he was ever married. 

III. The editor of this work says, that Thomas 
More was " the eldest son by descent, and the 
heir by nature of the family of that worthy 
martyr whose life is described :" and in the 
epitaph we are told that he was the " pronepos 
et heres" of Sir Thomas More. This is as op- 
posite as possible to what the writer declares 
concerning himself, that he was " the youngest 
of thirteen children of his father, the last and 
meanest of five sons." 

IV. Of Thomas More, we learn from the 
epitaph, that having inherited the family estate, 
he disposed of it to a younger brother, having 
embraced a religious life : 

Qui raro admodum apud Britannos exemplo 

in fratrem natu minorem 

amplum transcripsit patrimonium 

et Presbyter Romse factus. 

In exact correspondency with this, but in 
fatal correspondency as respects the claim of 
Thomas More to this work, we read in the 
author's prologue ; " I was the youngest of 


thirteen children of my father, the last and 
meanest of five sons, four of which lived to 
man's estate, and yet it hath been God's holy 
pleasure to bestow this inheritance upon me.'* 
And he proceeds, " which though perhaps I 
have no cause to boast of, because it may be a 
punishment unto me for my faults, if I use it 
not well, and a burthen that may well weigh 
me down full deep ; yet will the world con- 
jecture it to be a great blessing of God, and so 
I ought to acknowledge it ; and, although I 
know myself unfittest and unworthiest of all the 
four to manage the estate, yet they either loathed 
the world before the world fawned on them, living in 
voluntary contempt thereof, and died, happy 
souls, in that they chose to be accounted abject 
in the sight of men, or else they utterly cast off 
all care of earthly trash by professing a strait 
and religious life, for fear lest the dangerous 
perils of worldly wealth might ruin their souls, 
and the number of snares which hang in every 
corner of the world might entrap them to the 
endangering of their eternal salvation, and left 
me, poor soul, to sink or swim, as I can, by 
wading out of those dangerous whirlpools, among 
which we worldlings are engulphed." 

This appears complete as respects the claim 
of Thomas More ; but the comparison of 
this passage with the epitaph throws a strong 


light upon the real author. If we can discover 
to whom Thomas More, the priest, transferred 
the family inheritance, or in default of this, who 
possessed the inheritance at the time when this 
work was composed, and then find that such 
notices of himself, as the author has thrown out 
in the progress of his work, meet in the pos- 
sessor of the family estates, it can no longer be 
doubted that we have found the person to whom 
we owe this work. 

It has already been shown that it was com- 
posed after 1615 : it was, however, finished 
before 1620, for in that year Edward More, 
the writer's uncle, died, who is spoken of as 

During that interval the estates of the More 
family were possessed by him whose name is 
placed in the title page of this edition ; CRE- 
SACRE MORE, of More Place, alias Gobions, in 
the county of Herts, and of Barnborough, in 

For proof of this I may content myself with 
a general reference to the pedigrees of the 
family, and to the historians of the county of 
Herts. They all show, at that period, a Cresacre 
More the possessor of the estates of the family. 
It may be added, that in 1624, when Bernard 
Alsop published his edition of Robinson's trans- 
lation of the Utopia, he dedicated it to Cresacre 


More, and speaks of his possessing the " land" 
of his ancestors. 

And in this Cresacre More meet all the cir- 
cumstances which the writer has disclosed con- 
cerning himself. He was the son of Thomas, 
son of John, son of the Chancellor. He was 
married, and the father of children. He was 
the youngest of thirteen children, five of whom 
were sons. This, however, requires some proof. 
Thomas More, son of John, resided at Barn- 
borough, on the lands of his mother's inheri- 
tance, the estates in Hertfordshire being cruelly 
kept from the family during the whole reign of 
Elizabeth. The earliest entries in the parish 
register of Barnborough are in 1557, and from 
that time we have a series of baptisms of the 
children of Thomas More, in the following 
order : 

1557 John 1566 Thomas 

1562 Jane 1567 Henry 

1563 Magdalene 1568 Grace 

1564 Catherine 1572 Cresacre: 

and from that time there are no more entries 
of the children of that prolific bed. Here, how- 
ever, are only eight. But there were others 
born before the useful practice of registering 
baptisms began at Barnborough. Of these we 
know of three, from an entry of his children 
then born, made by the father at the visitation 



of Yorkshire in 1563. Eleven of the thirteen 
are thus accounted for, and it may reasonably 
be presumed that there might be two others 
between Grace and Cresacre, whose names do 
not appear in the register. 

But the author has mentioned one circum- 
stance of a very critical nature. When he says 
that " some one may ask, why he of all the 
family, being the youngest and the meanest, 
should undertake to write concerning so famous 
a person ?" he replies, " Let this suffice, that 
as Doctor Stapleton was moved to take pains 
in setting forth the actions of Sir Thomas More, 
because he was born in the very same month 
and year wherein he suffered his glorious mar- 
tyrdom, so was I born anew and regenerated 
by the holy sacrament of baptism on the very 
same day, though many years after, on which 
Sir Thomas More entered heaven triumphant, 
to wit, on the sixth day of July." In the regis- 
ter of Barnborough is this entry, 

" 1572. Cresacrus More, films Thomas More 
ar. fuit baptizatus sexto die Julii." 


Of Thomas and of Cresacre More, the pre- 
sumed and the real author of this work, little is 
known. And while presenting that little to the 
public, I shall at the same time take notice of 


some other members of the family of More, who 
have gained a literary celebrity, and give in fact 
some account of the male posterity of Sir Tho- 
mas More, freed from the errors and misconcep- 
tions with which the published accounts gene- 
rally are infected, owing to the wrong appro- 
priation of this work. 

Besides his three accomplished daughters, 
Margaret Roper, Elizabeth Dauncy, and Cecilia 
Heron, Sir Thomas More had one son, who was 
named John, after his grandfather, Sir John 
More, the judge. The date of his birth is fixed 
to the year 1510, by an inscription on the paint- 
ing of the More family, now at Burford Priory, 
the seat of - - Lenthall, Esq.* for it is there 
said that he married in 1529, being then " aetatis 
19." Too much has perhaps been said of the 
want of capacity in this son. Jortin describes 
him as one of the " heroum filii," and compares 
his life to that of an antediluvian patriarch, of 
whom nothing is recorded but that he was born, 

* The inscriptions upon this painting are the best authority 
for many dates of occurrences in the More family. I have 
been enabled, through the kindness of a friend, to present 
them to the reader in the Appendix to this work. The de - 
feet in the transcript must be excused ; but the inscriptions 
are in better preservation than would be supposed by the 
readers of Wood, who says, A. O. i. 35, that they are " now 
scarce legible." This was said in 1692. 


married, and died. Wood speaks of him as 
" little better than an idiot." Some have seen, 
or thought they saw, indications of weakness in 
the portrait left by Holbein. Rawlinson de- 
scribes the figure as " librum tenens, legensque, 
sed vultu tristi mitique, demisso ne dicam 
stultulo."* That he was not what might have 
been expected from the son of such a father, 
and the brother of such accomplished ladies, is 
not improbable. Nature is often seen giving 
in one generation great weakness and great 
strength, or denying to a second generation 
what she had bestowed on the foregoing. But 
still I cannot but think he has been underrated. 
In a letter to his children, given in this work, 
full of .affection and kindness, Sir Thomas More 
speaks of the purity of the Latin phrase in 
which his children had addressed him ; but he 
commends the letter of his son more than 
those of his daughters. He had written elegantly 
and sported pleasantly, returning jest for jest, 
but not forgetful of the respect owing to a father. 
His proficiency in the Greek tongue is celebrated 
by Grinasus, one of his father's friends, who dedi- 
cated to him an edition of the works of Plato.f 
Erasmus inscribed to him his account of the 

* See his letter to Hearne in the preface to Hearne's edition 
of Roper's Life. 

t Basil, 1534, folio. 


works of Aristotle. He had a character marked 
with sufficient strength to venture the denial of 
the king's supremacy, after the execution of his 
father. He lay, on this account, some time in 
the Tower, under sentence of death. 

During the happier period of the life of Sir 
Thomas More, John More and his wife formed 
part of the family in his house atChelsey, where 
he lived with all his children about him. We see 
them, and seem to live with them, in the paint- 
ing which the great artist of the age has left of 
them. The piece is full of mind, and of a sweet- 
toned morality. What a crime in Henry to 
have broken up the union of such a family as 
this ! * When the darker times came on they 

* The painting here meant is that at Nostell Priory, the 
seat of Charles Winn, Esq. in Yorkshire. This is the painting 
which was formerly in the House of the Ropers, Well Hall, in 
Eltham. In 1729 Sir Rowland Winn, Bart, great grand-father 
of the present Mr. Winn, married one of the three daughters 
and co-heirs of Edward Henshaw, Esq. by Elizabeth Roper, 
his wife, heiress to the Ropers. He purchased the shares of 
the other co-heirs in this picture, and carried it into Yorkshire. 
This is the picture described by Lewis, and is indisputably, in 
all its parts, by the hand of Holbein, possessing the beauties 
and the defects of that master. The persons represented in it 

1. Sir Thomas More, aged 50. 

2. Alice More, his wife, aged 57. 

3. Sir John More, aged 76. 

4. John More, aged 19. 


were compelled to separate ; each went to his 
own home, save Margaret, who remained the 
comfort and peculiar delight of her father. It 
is doubtful whether John More retired into 
Yorkshire, where he had a good estate of his 
wife's inheritance, or continued about London. 
But when the king had shown a determination 
to destroy as well as ruin his unbending coun- 
sellor, we find John More lingering upon the 
steps of his honoured father, and casting himself 
at his feet, as he walked through the streets of 
London after sentence, the headsman going 
before, holding the axe with the edge towards 

5. Anne More, wife of John, aged 18. 

6. Margaret Roper, aged 22. 

7. Elizabeth Dauncy, aged 21. 

8. Cecilia Heron, aged 20. 

9. Margaret Clement. 

10. Henry Pattison. 

11. John Harris, aged 27. 

12. An anonymous in an inner room. 

One like this is at Barnborough Hall, the seat of the Mores. 
Mr. Lenthall's picture has Sir John, Sir Thomas, and John 
More, with four other male, and four female figures, besides 
another female, who appears as a portrait in a square frame. 
Some of these are supposed not to have been members of Sir 
Thomas More's household, but descendants of his son John. 
This is implied by the inscriptions, and by the shields of arms, 
More quartering Cresacre. It probably came from More 
Place, when the Mores abandoned their estates in Hertford- 
shire and returned into the North. 


him. Sir Thomas raised him from the ground, 
blessed and kissed him. This was a little before 
a scene still more affecting ; for when Sir Tho- 
mas arrived at the Tower Wharf, he found his 
daughter Margaret there awaiting his arrival, 
and the moment the sad procession appeared in 
sight she rushed through the guard, who with 
bills and halberds encompassed him around, 
and openly in the sight of all embraced him, 
took him about the neck and kissed him, unable 
to pronounce more than " Oh, my father ! Oh, 
my father !" It is circumstances such as these, 
related by his own family, which endear to us 
the memory of Sir Thomas More. In a farewell 
letter, written just before his execution, he re- 
members his son, " Commend me, when you can, 
to my son John ; his towardly carriage towards 
me pleased me very much. God bless him and 
his good wife, and their children, Thomas and 
Augustine, and all that they shall have." 

Of John More, from the time of his release 
from the Tower, till his death in 1547, nothing 
is known. He probably retired to Yorkshire, 
and lived upon the estates of his wife, for the 
property of Sir Thomas More was confiscated, 
and his lands settled on the Princess Elizabeth, 
afterwards queen, who kept possession of them 
till her death. The principal estate, and the 
seat of her family was at Barnborough, in the 


south of Yorkshire, a pleasant village on the 
high grounds north of the Dearne, consisting of 
the church, hall, parsonage house, and a few 
cottages, looking down on the plains of Mais- 
beli, the supposed scene of the great battle 
between Hengist and Ambrosius. 

Not far from Barnborough is the castle of 
Coningsborough, the ancient seat of the Earls 
of Warren. A moiety of Barnborough w r as held 
of that castle. Another moiety was held of the 
castle of Tickhill, a few miles further distant. 
The two great houses of Newmarch and Fitzwil- 
liam held Barnborough. Both subinfeuded; and 
the tenants of the Fitzwilliams' moiety was the 
family of Cresacre. 

The Cresacres may be traced at Barnbo- 
rough to the earliest period to which the records 
of private families usually ascend ; and the 
estate descended in regular succession from 
father to Son till the death of Edward Cresacre 
in 1512, who left Ann Cresacre, his only 
daughter and heir, then aged one year, whom 
afterwards John More took to wife. 

The marriages of the Cresacres had been 
with the principal families of the vicinity. Their 
pedigree is adorned with the names of Hastings, 
Wortley, Mounteney, and Wasteney. Their 
arms, three rampant lions, appear in the 
church of Barnborough, and their crest a cat-a- 


mountain, with which, in the traditions of the 
villagers, a romantic story is connected of an 
encounter between a Cresacre and a wild cat 
from a neighbouring wood, which ended in the 
death of both the combatants at the door of the 

The church contains evidence of the attach- 
ment which Cresacre More manifests in this 
work for the puerile observances of the Catholic 
system having existed in the earlier Cresacres. 
A stone, which covers the remains of one of 
them, has a cross of Calvary wrought upon it, 
formed by the union of nine strings of beads, 
three forming the head, three the shaft, and 
three the feet. But there is a very elaborate 
monument, with the effigies cut in oak, of one 
of them, all curiously inscribed with texts of 
Scripture, and passages from the ancient rituals 
of the church. To the honours, the estates, 
and to the deep feeling of religion which 
characterized this family the Mores suc- 

The connection was brought about by acci- 
dent. Sir Thomas proceeded upon the old 
feudal plan, and bought a wife for his son. But 
the author of the Life before us informs us that 
his grand-mother was bought in a mistake, 
" upon error for another body's lands lying in 

Xlli ' PREFACE. 

the same town, as was afterwards proved." The 
intention was, I presume, that John More should 
have married one of the four co-heirs of Sir John 
Dynham, in whom the other moiety of Barnbo- 
rough was vested. 

Thus in the days of the court of wards and 
liveries were matrimonial alliances formed. It 
is added, however, by her grandson, that while 
her inheritance formed the only livelihood for 
the son and grandson of the Chancellor, that 
she proved a good wife and careful mother. The 
education of the children of John More devolved 
upon her, and to her the family may have owed 
the recovery of the family estates in Hertford- 
shire. They were granted to her by Queen 
Mary in the first year of her reign, subject how- 
ever to the lease of them to the Princess Eliza- 
beth for life.* 

After the death of John More she married 
George West, a gentleman of the neighbour- 
hood, of equal rank with herself, nephew of Sir 
William West, a favourite of King Henry VIII. 
They were married on the 13th of June, 1559, 
and in the same year the only daughter of John 

* See History of Hertfordshire, by Mr. Clutterbuck, vol. i. 
p. 451, who has added some useful particulars respecting the 
Mores' estates to what was to be found respecting them in the 
works of his predecessors. 


More became the wife of John West,* a son of 
George by a former marriage. This double 
marriage of West and More, of which no notice 
is taken in any of the published accounts of the 
family, appears in the visitation of Yorkshire of 
1563, and in the parish register of Barnborough. 
These Wests were implicated in the feud between 
the Wests and the Darcies, which is the subject 
of a contemporary historical ballad, in which 
Lewis West, one of the family, lost his life. The 
" Symb oleography" of William West long con- 
tinued to be the best book of legal precedents. 
George West appears, after the marriage, to 
have removed from Aughton, the family seat, to 
Barnborough, where he was buried on the 12th 
of June, 1572, a few days before the birth of 
Cresacre More. 

Ann Cresacre, again a widow, conveyed 
Barnborough and her other estates to her eldest 
son, Thomas More. A brass-plate, formerly af- 
fixed to the stone which covered her remains in 
the church of Barnborough, is now at the hall, 

* The issue of this marriage was three children, Godfrey, 
Anne, and Jane. Godfrey married Catherine Revel, daughter 
of Thomas Revel, and had a daughter, Anne, who married 
Godfrey Bradshaw. The marriage of Thomas Revel and Anne 
West, widow, appears in the register of a parish near the resi- 
dence of the Wests, which, there is reason to think, is a second 
marriage of Anne More, grand-daughter to the Chancellor. 


from which we learn that she died on the second 
of December, 1577, in the sixty-sixth year of 
her age. 

John More and Ann Cresacre had five sons. 
Their names were Thomas, Augustine, Edward, 
a second Thomas and Bartholomew. Only the 
two first were born before the death of Sir 
Thomas. The names of all of them appear in 
the Visitation ; and we have some account of 
each in this work of Cresacre M ore's, who was 
son to the elder Thomas. 

I. Thomas, the eldest son, was born in the 
house at Chelsey, on the eighth of August, 1531. 
When Sir Thomas More saw the cloud that was 
gathering over him, he settled the estates in 
Hertfordshire on this grandson, then a child 
of two years old. As this settlement was made 
before any statute concerning the oath of supre- 
macy had passed, and consequently before any 
treason could be committed under it, the family 
thought it hard that this provident conveyance 
should be frustrated; especially as one like it 
was respected, made only two days before in 
favour of the Ropers. 

This Thomas More, grandson and next heir 
to the Chancellor, appears to have been no com- 
mon character ; but he lived in a reign when 
the religious principles he professed must neces- 


sarily have excluded him from all public em- 
ployments, and when they would subject him to 
obloquy and active persecution. The writer of 
the following life of Sir Thomas, who was his 
son, had an intention of preparing a memoir of 
his life. " My father, only right heir of his 
father and grandfather, was a lively pattern unto 
us of his constant faith, his worthy and upright 
dealings, his true Catholic simplicity, of whom T 
have purpose to discourse unto my children 
more at large, that they may know in what hard 
times he lived, and how manfully he sustained 
the combat which his father and grandfather 
had left unto him as their best inheritance." It 
is to be regretted if this intention was never 
embodied in the act. 

He married in 1553, Mary Scrope, a niece 
of Henry Lord Scrope, of Bolton. The grand- 
mother was a daughter of the third Percy, Earl 
of Northumberland. She was thus related to the 
succeeding Earls of Northumberland and to the 
Earl of Arundel, and others of the chief of the 
nobility. He resided at Barnborough during 
the whole reign of Elizabeth, and there his 
numerous children were born. In the parish 
register he is uniformly described as an esquire ; 
and we find by the names of the sponsors at the 
baptism of his children, that he lived in respect 
and amity with the principal families in the 


neighbourhood.* Most, if not all these sponsors, 
were professors of the reformed religion; but 
there were, besides the Mores, several families in 
that part of the kingdom who adhered to the old 
profession, and especially one very active family, 
the Mortons of Bawtry, who were supposed to 
have had more to do with the movements against 
Queen Elizabeth than it would have been safe 
for them to have acknowledged. I have not 
found the name of Thomas More connected 
with any of the efforts of the Catholic party in 
that reign, though the " sea-maid," at whose 
<( music" so many of the chief of the Catholic 
party of the north, like " stars" 

Shot madly from their spheres, 

was lamenting her captivity in the castle of 
Sheffield, but a few miles distant from Barn- 

* I add the names, as showing who in those times were the 
principal friends of the family of a great but obnoxious man. 
Francis Frobisher, Esq. Ursula Wray, Gent. 

Wentworth. Thomas Reresby, Esq. 

Richard Brown, Gent. Thomas Wombwell, Gent. 

Beatrice Brown. Dorothy Killam, Gent. 

Claricia Scrope. Henry Maleverer, Gent. 

William Hawley, Gent. Thomas Normavile, Gent. 

Elizabeth Hammond, Gent. Benedicta Mountford, Gent. 

Frances Holmes, Gent. Nicholas Denman. 

James Washington, Esq. Grace Rokeby. 

Catherine Vicars, alias Cartwright. 


borough ; and the Earl of Northumberland, his 
relation by marriage, was at the head of one 
formidable insurrection in her favour. Yet he 
was an object of suspicion. During the severe 
administration of the Earl of Huntingdon, Lord 
President of the north, he was committed to 
prison on the charge of recusancy. This fact 
we learn from the heralds' list of the gentry of 
Yorkshire, made previously to the Visitation 
of 1584. 

He was seventy years of age at the death 
of Queen Elizabeth. That event restored to 
him the estates of his family in the south, and 
he seems to have then abandoned Barnborough. 
His will, which was proved in 1606, abounds in 
indications of a mind deeply embued with the 
religious feeling. He leaves benefactions to the 
parishes of Barnborough and Chelsey. The 
prominent feature in the character of the later 
Mores and of the Cresacres appears in his earnest 
injunction on his successors to continue the pay- 
ment of three shillings to the poor of Barn- 
borough, on Saint Cuthtert's day for ever, pur- 
suant to the directions left by his ancestor, 
Percival Cresacre, on pain of his curse and male- 

He was the father of Thomas and Cresacre 
More ; but before we take notice of his children, 


it may be proper to speak of the younger sons 
of John More and Ann Cresacre. 

II. Augustine. We learn from the life that 
he continued in the profession of the Catholic 
faith, and died unmarried. 

III. Edward. The first-born after the death 
of Sir Thomas, and " so enjoyed not so directly 
his blessing as his elder brothers Thomas and 
Augustine did." To this, Cresacre attributes it 
that he and his two younger brothers " degene- 
rated from that religion and those manners which 
Sir Thomas More had left, as it were, a happy 
depositum unto his children and family." And he 
continues " as for my uncle Edward who is 
yet alive, although he were endowed with ex- 
cellent gifts of nature, as a ready wit, tongue at 
will, and his pen glib ;* yet God knows he hath 
drowned all his talents in self-conceit in no 
worthy qualities, and besides burieth himself 
alive in obscurity in forsaking God, and his mean 
and base behaviour." I find him mentioned in 
the will of a Protestant clergyman in the neigh- 

* Can this be the Edward More mentioned by Ritson as 
the author of " A lytle and bryefe treatyse, called The Defence 
of Women, and especially of Englyshe Women, made agaynst 
The Schol-hows of Women." Printed by John Kynge 1 560, 
quarto. The author dates from Hambledon, the seat of John 
Scrope, whose daughter Thomas More married. The date of 
the work is 1557, when this Edward More was twenty-one. 


bourhood, 1580, " To Mr. Edward More, of 
Barnborough,, the dagger wbich my Lord Darcy 
gave me." He had a daughter who is mentioned 
in the will of her uncle. His burial is registered 
at Barnborough, May 2, 1620, being probably 
the last surviving grandchild of Sir Thomas 

IV. Thomas More, the second son of that 
name. The respect of the family to the me- 
mory of their martyred ancestor could not be 
satisfied with only one child of that name. But 
this Thomas departed from the faith of his 
ancestors. " He lived and died a professed 
minister," by which is meant a minister of the 
reformed church. Cresacre says of him further, 
that " for all that he was very poor, bringing 
up his children, whereof the eldest son is still 
living, in no commendable profession." Three 
sons of his are mentioned in the will of the 
elder Thomas. Their names were Cyprian, 
Thomas, and Constantine. For any descendants 
of their's I have inquired in vain. 

V. Bartholomew. He also conformed to the 
Protestant system, but he died early. " Mine 
uncle Bartholomew," says Cresacre, " died young 
of the plague, in London, and therefore might 
have, by the grace of God, excuse and remorse 
at his end." 

Of the thirteen children, the offspring of 



Thomas More and Mary Scrope, eight were 
daughters, most of whom were married to gen- 
tlemen of the midland counties. Of the five 
sons, one died young. We learn from the in- 
scription on the Burford picture that four were 
alive in 1593. The anonymous life, published 
by Dr. Wordsworth, informs us that in 1599 
only three were living. The few particulars 
follow which can now be recovered respecting 
the four who attained to man's estate. Among 
them is the supposed and the real author of the 
work before us. 

I. John. He was the first-born son, for he 
is distinctly described as the " son and heir " of 
his father, in the register of his baptism, 1557. 
On the Burford picture he is said to be aged 36, 
1593. There is thus an exact correspondency 
between the above date @n the picture and the 
time of the birth of John More. In the pedigree 
of More, in the Ashmole MS., F. 7., he is said 
to have died without issue in the lifetime of his 
father. His name does not appear in his father's 
will; and it is evident that by his death the 
number of the sons was reduced to three in 1599. 

II. Thomas More, the presumed author 
of this work was baptized at Barnborough, Ja- 
nuary 13, 1565. When his elder brother was 
dead, without issue, he became strictly the head 
of the family, the " pronepos et heres" of Sir 


Thomas More, as he is described in his epitaph. 
But he had devoted himself, before his brother's 
death, to a religious life, and had taken upon 
himself the office and character of a priest. The 
date of his entrance into the church is fixed by 
a passage in the Life of Magdalene, Lady Mon- 
tacute, by Richard Smith, afterwards Bishop of 
Chalcedon. Smith wrote in 1609, and he says 
of this Thomas More, that he had then laboured 
in the conversion of his countrymen, not less 
than twenty years. He took orders in the 
English college at Rome, and proceeded imme- 
diately to England, at the express command of 
the Pope. He was received into the household 
of Lady Montacute, a zealous catholic, daughter 
of the Lord Dacre who made that free remark 
to Henry, that he might hereafter absolve him- 
self from his own sins. This lady, of whom 
Smith has left an exceedingly curious account, 
lived unmolested in the open enjoyment of the 
rites of her church, through the whole reign of 
Elizabeth. She had a house in London, and 
another at Battel, in Sussex. More was one of 
three priests entertained in her house, and Smith 
was another. She died in 1608, when More 
appears to have returned to Rome to assist Dr. 
Smith in his character of agent for the English 
clergy. We are informed, by Dodd, that when 
Smith was recalled, More received credentials 


to act wholly, sent him by the arch-priest, Mr. 
Birket, dated October 27, 1609. He was con- 
firmed in the office by a common letter from 
the clergy, signed May 1, 1614 ; and by another 
from the arch-priest, Dr. Harrison, dated April 
23, 1617. We are told in the epitaph that he 
was seven years at Rome and five in Spain, 
acting on behalf of the English clergy ; and that 
he was afterwards employed in a mission to 
Pope Urban VIII. of great delicacy and import- 
ance. The object of this mission was to engage 
the Pope to consecrate a bishop for the English 
nation. He succeeded, and not long after, his 
friend Dr. Smith appeared in Lancashire with 
the ensigns of episcopal authority. It was 
during that mission, or soon after he had at- 
tained his object, that he was engaged in soli- 
citing the Pope to favour the union of King 
Charles I. with Henrietta-Maria of France, a 
union which raised for a time the spirits and the 
hopes of the friends to the old profession in 
England. The negociations were not concluded 
when he died, on April 11, 1625. He was in- 
terred in the church of St. Lewis, at Rome. 
The inscription on his tomb has been already 
given, written it is probable by his friend the 
Bishop of Chalcedon. Dodd has passed this 
censure upon him, " He left several schemes un- 
finished, which he had laid for the benefit of the 

PREFACE. llil 

clergy, but were obstructed by the warmness of 
his temper, a disposition very disagreeable to 
the Italians." 

The fact that he relinquished the inheritance 
which had descended to him is noticed by Dr. 
Smith in 1 609 ; who, after describing him as 
great-grandson and heir to Sir Thomas More, 
says, that preferring to possess rather the virtue 
than the wealth of his ancestor, he transferred 
his ample patrimony to a younger brother, and 
devoted himself to the cultivation of literature 
and virtue. 

III. Henry More, baptized March 15, 1567, 
and aged 26, 1593. He must have been one of 
those brothers of Cresacre More who betook 
themselves to a religious life, but I have not 
been able to recover any particulars of his life 
and character. 

The name of Henry More must not, how- 
ever, be dismissed without a further notice. 
In the whole range of the historical litera- 
ture of the English Catholics, there is no more 
curious work than the " Historia Provincias 
Anglicanae Societatis Jesu ;" or as it is called 
in a second title, " Historia Missionis Anglicanae 
Societatis Jesu, ab anno salutis, 1580, ad 1619." 
It was printed at St, Omer's in 1660. The 
author was Henry More, a priest of that society ; 
and Dodd says that he was "great-grandson of 


Sir Thomas More, and brother to Thomas 
More, a noted person among the clergy/'* 
Dodd refers to Alegambe, p. 176, as his autho- 
rity. But Alegambe does not say that the author 
of the history of the mission was great-grandson 
of Sir Thomas More, but only that he was of 
his family ; and when he describes him as bro- 
ther of a Thomas More, he does not mean the 
Thomas More of whom we have just been 
speaking, but another person of the name. 
Alegambe further says, that this Henry More 
was of the county of Essex. He tells us that he 
studied in Spain, was admitted into the society 
of Jesuits in 1607, and was living, and in Eng- 
land, when the memoirs of celebrated members 
of that order were collected. Alegambe then 
mentions the two works translated by him as in 
Dodd ; and says nothing of the History of the 
Mission, which, however, as it was posthumous, 
Dodd is doubtless right in adding to the cata- 
logue of his writings. 

That the Thomas More mentioned by Ale- 
gambe as being brother to this Henry, was not 
the Thomas More the supposed author of the 
life of Sir Thomas More, is evident from Ale- 
gambe's own notice of him ; where we find that 
he was of the county of Cambridge, and that he 

* Church History, vol. iii. p. 120. 


died in 1623, at the age of 36 ; so that he was 
born after, and died before the person with 
whom Dodd has confounded him, 

IV. Cresacre More. The name of this 
person may hereafter find a place in the col- 
lections of our literary biography. At present 
he is absent from all; not excepting Dodd's, 
which is a large catalogue of Catholic writers. 
While his elder brethren betook themselves to 
a religious life, he continued a layman. On 
the Burford picture and in his father's will he is 
called Christopher Cresacre More. It was not 
unusual for the Catholics of those times to as- 
sume other names than those given at baptism. 
He took the estates of the family, both in 
Yorkshire and Hertfordshire, by the gift of his 
brother and the will of his father, who made 
him his sole heir. The estates must have been 
considerable, but there were many sisters to be 

He resided at More-Place, or Gobions, in 
Hertfordshire. It is in the parish of North 
Minims. In that parish Henry Peacham was 
born, who tells us that there " Merrie John 
Heywood wrote his Epigrammes, and also Sir 
Thomas More his Utopia."*' To its literary 
honours may now be added that there in all 

* The Complete Gentleman, p. 95. 


probability Cresacre More composed the ac- 
count of the life of his great grandfather. 

North Mimms, I am sorry to add, has not 
been careful to preserve the memory of her dis- 
tinguished inhabitants. On enquiry lately 
made by a friend residing near that place, it 
was discovered that there were no memorials of 
the Mores in the church, and that all the early 
registers are lost. 

From Chauncy we learn that Cresacre More 
married a daughter of Thomas Gage, Esq. of 
Firle, and that she died on July 15, 1618;* 
also that Cresacre was living in 1638. He 
might survive that date some years, as no will 
or administration of his is to be found before 

The spirit of religious devoteeism which ap- 
pears in his work would probably give a colour- 
ing to his whole life and character ; and the re- 
tirement of a man who had persuaded himself 
that he had communication with the spirit of 
his martyred and sainted ancestor, would pro- 
bably partake of monastic seclusion; and this 
may account for the little that is now to be col- 
lected concerning him. He had one son and 
two daughters. The daughters entered fully 

* Vincent (MSS. in the College of Arms, vol. iii. f. 370) 
savs, 1610. 


into the spirit of the family. Helen More, of 
whom there is a portrait by Lochon, was one 
of them ; she was horn in the house of her 
grandfather at Layton on March 25, 1606 ; she 
changed her baptismal name for the name of 
Gertrude, and became a Benedictine nun in the 
English congregation of our Ladies of Comfort 
at Cambray ; she died in early life in 1633, and 
many years after her death there appeared a 
volume of her " Spiritual Exercises." This 
work is dedicated to the other daughter of Cre- 
sacre More, whose name was Bridget ; who, like 
her sister, devoted herself to a religious life, 
and became prioress of the English Benedictine 
nuns of our Lady of Hope in Paris. Dodd has 
a valuable notice of this lady. She had lived 
with her sister at Cambray, from whence she 
removed to Paris, in 1652, and was the first 
prioress of the English Monastery of Bene- 
dictines ; she died on October 11, 1692, at the 
age of 83.* 

As we recede from the illustrious person, 
who is the glory of this race, the interest be- 
comes weaker. Cresacre More left one son; 
who bore the family name of Thomas, and mar- 
ried a daughter of Sir Basil Brooke. In the 
civil wars he adhered to the king, and suffered 

* Dodd, vol. iii. p. 497. 



much in his estate on account of his loyalty. 
His son and heir, Basil More, sold the property in 
Hertfordshire, and Barnborough became once 
more the retreat of this family. Basil More lived 
till the year 1702. In his time it is probable that 
much of the present house at Barnborough was 
built, of which a wood-cut is here given. 

Basil More had a numerous progeny, of whom 
another Christopher Cresacre More was the 
second but eldest surviving son. Christopher 
Cresacre More had a daughter married to Charles 
Waterton, Esq. of Walton, from whom is de- 


scended the distinguished traveller and naturalist 
of that name ; and a son Thomas More, of Barn- 
borough, Esq. who died on the 28th of August, 
1739. By Catherine, his wife, daughter of Peter 
Gifford, Esq. of White Ladies he had his son and 
heir, Thomas More, the last male of the family. 
This Thomas More embraced a religious life, and 
was the Principal of the English Jesuits at the 
dissolution of the order. He did what his rela- 
tion and namesake had done two centuries be- 
fore ; voluntarily divesting himself of the family 
estates, settling them on his sisters, and going 
to reside abroad. He returned to England, and 
died at Bath on the 20th of May, 1795, when it 
is supposed that the whole male progeny of 
Sir Thomas More became extinct. 

One of his sisters was a nun professed ; an- 
other was twice married ; her first husband was 
Peter Metcalfe, Esq. and her second Robert 
Dalton, of Thurnham, Esq. There was issue of 
both marriages. Thomas Peter Metcalfe, the 
only son of the first marriage, by Theresa 
Throckmorton, his wife, had one daughter, now 
the wife of Charles Eyston, Esq. and one son, 
Thomas Peter Metcalfe, who by royal sign 
manual, dated June 24, 1797, took the name, 
arms, and crest of More, and is the present 
owner of Barnborough.* 
* See for this descent, D. 7. 14. f. 332 in the College of Arms. 



It having now been shown,, 

T. That Thomas More could not have been 
the author of this work, although in the Epistle 
Dedicatory of the first Edition published while 
the true author was alive, it is ascribed to him : 

II. That it was the work of his younger 
brother, Cresacre More, it becomes a curious 
part of our enquiry, how it happened that so 
misleading an account of the author should ac- 
company the first Edition, especially since there 
must at that time have been many persons who 
would instantly perceive that there were pointed 
contradictions between the account of the au- 
thor, which the editor had given, and notices of 
himself in the work from his own pen. 

But here I am sorry to say, we are left 
entirely to conjecture and probability. The 
simplest hypothesis on which the fact can be 
explained appears to be this : That the manu- 
script was found amongst the papers of Thomas 
More, when he died at Rome, in 1625 ; that it 
was hastily concluded to be his own work ; and 
the Epistle Dedicatory prefixed to it without 
much consideration, or by some person ignorant 
of the fact that it would be contradicted by the 
work itself. 

Another conjecture may, however, be made. 


As the name of the author is indicated in the 
title page only by the initial letters M. T. M. 
so to the dedication the initials M.C.M.E. are 
subscribed. As the former is evidently Ma- 
gister Thomas More, so may these be read 
Magister Cresacre More Eboracensis, especially 
as on a close inspection the letter E appears a 
size taller than the other letters. And nothing 
is more probable than that Cresacre More 
might not be unwilling to recal to the mind of 
the queen what Thomas More, his brother, had 
done to further her union with the king, and the 
merit generally of his family in respect of a cause 
to which all of Medicis blood were so devotedly 
attached. He might also by an allowable fraud 
in which he himself was the sufferer, not be indis- 
posed to give to his brother the credit of having 
produced this memoir of their common an- 
cestor, and consent to its publication in his 
name from a foreign press. The manuscript 
we may suppose was abroad ; had been written 
some years ; Cresacre's recollections of its con- 
tents were but imperfect ; the printer was in 
haste; and Cresacre's intentions that its contents 
should conform to the tenor of the dedication, 
frustrated by some negligence of his agent. 
When the work appears, the inconsistency is 
perceived, and he endeavours to suppress it: 
whence its rarity. 


This more complex hypothesis has the ad- 
vantage of taking up the initial letters sub- 
scribed to the Epistle Dedicatory, and also of 
accounting for such a dedication at all being 
prefixed to it, which would hardly have been 
found there, had the publication been absolutely 
surreptitious, and no member of the family of 
More hoping to be in any way benefited by it. 

It is remarkable, and the coincidence is proba- 
bly not accidental, that Roper's life of Sir Thomas 
More made its appearance from a foreign press 
soon after the king's marriage with Henrietta- 
Maria. Both brought out, it is possible, by the 
better prospects which at the beginning of the 
reign of Charles I. began to dawn upon the 
Catholics. It is curious, indeed, to observe how 
the parties interested in the reputation of Sir 
Thomas More seem to have availed themselves 
of every possible opportunity for exalting his 
character, and bringing it to bear upon the 
state of religious feeling and opinion in Eng- 
land. For in the reign of Queen Mary, and 
nearly in the same year, 1556, Roper wrote the 
life of More ; an anonymous life, now in the 
Lambeth library, was composed; Ellis Hey- 
wood wrote his " II Moro," dedicated to Car- 
dinal Pole ; and the great folio of the works of 
More was published. In 1588, when the con- 
version of England was expected through the 


Spanish Armada, the " De Tribus Thomis," of 
Stapleton, appeared. In 1599, when there was 
a prospect of a disputed succession, the anony- 
mous life was composed, which Dr. Wordsworth 
has published ; and soon after Charles I. had 
taken a Catholic for his queen, the lives by Roper 
and by Cresacre More issued from the press. 

Perhaps the present edition may be the 
means of bringing to light some new fact which 
may bear upon this enquiry; and this curious 
literary question may not be left to hypothesis 
and conjecture. Other facts concerning the 
work are, it is believed, now firmly established, 
and the public will no longer read as the work 
of a priest that which belongs to a layman, or 
attribute sentiments to a long residence abroad 
which were the natural growth of our own soil. 
We read a work with the greater pleasure when 
we know something of the habits, character, 
feeling, and prejudices of its author. There is 
also a beauty in truth that she should be 
desired ; and be the truth established of what 
insignificance it may, the removal of error is the 
eradication of a prolific weed, which for aught 
we know may overrun and infect the whole 

Some books of considerable rarity in our 
early literature are quoted in this volume. I 


should not do justice to the sense I entertain of 
obligation and respect, if I did not add that I 
have been indebted for the opportunity of con- 
sulting them at leisure to my valued friend, 
Benjamin Heywood Bright, Esq. to whom others 
engaged in similar pursuits owe the like obli- 


read si 
-ba''r ' f h * ser 


V '%> ?' 20 ' for < ' s t er V read sisters'.' p. ISO, 1. 12, for Manners,' rea.i ' MannersV- 
*V-bai'' 7 'r f r SPaUe ' f h * sermon '' read ' spake of it hi a seimou.' p. 369, M4, fo 



S I have much and often thought 
of the rare and admirable virtues 
both of nature and grace, which 
did shine most perspicuously in 
the blessed life and glorious death of that worthy 
champion of Christ's church, Sir Thomas More, 
so also have I often had an earnest desire, espe- 
cially for the spiritual behoof of myself and my 
children (who are as small brooks derived by 
natural propagation from that spacious sea of 
rare perfections ; or like tender twigs drawing 
sap from the fruitful root of his noble excellen- 
cies) to give them a taste, according to my poor 
ability, of some few of his most heroical virtues ; 
yet professing myself utterly unable to set down 
his life in writing, as he deserveth. 



For if that Apelles, the principal painter that 
ever lived, was thought only fit to draw with his 
pencil the portraiture of Alexander the Great ; 
or if Lysippus, the most curious engraver, was 
the only man which was suffered to carve in 
brass the beauteous feature of the same so 
worthy a personage ; for fear lest that some 
unskilful workman might rather blemish his 
favour than any ways grace it ; what courage 
can I have to undertake a work of so great dif- 
ficulty as this, who know myself a very puny in 
comparison of so many famous men, that have 
undergone this business already, finding in the 
very beginning of this mine enterprise, my small 
capacity overwhelmed with the plenty and co- 
piousness of this subject ? And if I should 
boast my wit and skill to be equal with learned 
Stapleton's, who at large and with great dili- 
gence and dexterity hath set forth the life of 
this great servant of God in his book, intitled, 
" The Three Thomases," I should vanish away 
in mine own pride, knowing myself right well 
most unworthy to be compared unto him ; or if 
I should challenge unto myself more certainty 
of the matter related than my great uncle Mr. 
William Roper could have, every one might 
judge me both vain and arrogant, of whose sin- 
cerity none that ever knew him or heard of him 


can doubt, I being the third in descent from Sir 
Thomas, and he his own son-in-law, with whom 
he had familiarly conversed the space of sixteen 
years together, as he himself confesseth. Yet 
for all this, I have now at last ventured to dis- 
course a little of the life and death of this glo- 
rious martyr (for so without envy I hope I may 
call him), " non ut electus ex multis, sed quasi 
relictus ex omnibus," not as one that may be 
thought fit to set his life forth with good grace, 
but as he, who only upon a natural affection to 
his ancestor, trusting chiefly of God's aid, and 
this saint's holy prayers, is emboldened to say 
somewhat thereof; this being one property of 
affection, to suppose that whosoever hath 
spoken, or whatsoever hath been said of him 
whom we love, all that we think nothing, if we 
ourselves have not said somewhat in his praise ; 
although, alas! we are often the unfittest men 
for that purpose, we being not able to utter 
what we conceive, because our passion taketh 
away much of our conceit; and therefore we 
utter for the most part either broken words or 
unperfect sentences, more intelligible to him 
that searcheth the secrets of men's hearts> than 
to others that hear them spoken, or read them 
in our writings. 

But one may ask me, why I should chal- 
lenge more affection to this man than any other 


of my kin, of whom few or none have endea- 
voured to write any thing hitherto ; I answer, 
that though I have had more cause perhaps 
than any man else to love him, and honour him, 
which is best known to myself, and not fit to be 
related unto all men ; " secretum meum mihi ;" 
yet will I not ascribe to myself so great a privi- 
lege of loving him best, I being the youngest 
and meanest of all my family ; let this suffice 
him, that is a curious searcher of this my deed, 
that as Doctor Stapleton was moved to take 
pains in setting forth the actions of Sir Thomas 
More, because he was born in the very same 
month and year, wherein he suffered his glorious 
martyrdom ; so was I born anew and regene- 
rated by the holy sacrament of baptism on the 
very same day, though many years after, on which 
Sir Thomas More entered heaven triumphant, 
to wit, on the sixth day of July. And therefore 
have I had some special confidence of his parti- 
cular furtherance and blessing. For how, I 
pray you, could I ever have hoped to have lived 
as heir of Sir Thomas's family, and to enjoy 
at this time some part of his inheritance, all 
which, by his attainder, he had lost utterly from 
himself and his children, if his prayers had not, 
as it were, begged it at God's hands ? Besides, 
I was the youngest of thirteen children of my 
father's, the last and meanest of five sons, four 


of which lived to men's estate ; and yet it hath 
been God's holy pleasure to bestow this inheri- 
tance upon me ; which, though perhaps I have 
no cause to boast of it, because it may be a 
punishment for my unworthiness, and a burden 
which may weigh me down full deep, yet will 
the world conjecture it to be a great blessing of 
God, and so I ought to acknowledge it. And 
although I know myself the unfittest and unwor- 
thiest of all the four to manage this estate, yet 
they either loathed the world, before the world 
fawned on them, living in voluntary contempt 
thereof, and died happy souls, in that they chose 
to be accounted abject in the sight of men ; or 
else they utterly cast off all care of earthly 
trash, by professing a straight and religious life, 
for fear lest the dangerous perils of worldly 
wealth might gall their souls, and the number 
of snares which hang in every corner of this 
world, might entrap them to the endangering of 
their eternal salvation, and left me, poor soul, to 
sink or swim as I can, by wading out of those 
dangerous whirlpools amongst which we world- 
lings are engulphed; the multitude of which 
eminent perils do force me to cry first and 
chiefly to Christ Jesus, saying, with his apostle, 
" Lord, save me, for I am in danger of drown- 
ing ;" and then also to crave the especial assist- 


ance of Sir Thomas More's prayers, by whose 
intercession I hope to waft this my poor bark 
unto her assured haven of heaven, though shaken 
and crushed with wind and weather. 

But none of us must think that his assist- 
ance is all ; we must put our own helping hands 
thereto : 

Nam genus et proavos, et quee non fecimus ipsi 
Vix ea nostra voco : 

his merits are not our warrant, yea rather 
his examples have laid a greater load on the 
backs of his posterity, in that we are bound to 
imitate his actions more than any other, or else 
more harm will fall upon us, because we have 
not followed the footsteps of our worthy fore- 
father, according as Moses commanded the 
Israelites, saying in his canticle, " Interroga 
patrem tuum, et annunciabit tibi ; majores tuos, 
et dicent tibi ;" which the apostle also coun- 
selleth all Christians in these words, " Quorum 
videntes conversationem, imitamini fidem." But 
should I therefore wish I had not been his 
grandchild, because I have incurred a greater 
bond, and shall run into greater infamy by for- 
saking my duty? No, God forbid ; yea rather 
this will I boldly affirm, not upon vain glory 
but upon the confidence I have of this singular 
man's blessing; if God would have given me 


choice, before he created me of nothing, whether 
I would be the son of some famous emperor, 
magnificent king, noble duke, courageous lord, 
or his whose I was, I would most willingly have 
chosen to be the same I am, to God's eternal 
glory be it spoken. 

Wherefore relying upon the assistance of this 
most excellent saint, I will endeavour briefly to 
set down for mine own instruction, and my 
children's, the life and death of Sir Thomas 
More ; who was as a bright star of our country 
in the tempestuous storms of persecution, in 
which we sail to our heavenly city ; on whom 
God heaped a number of most singular endow- 
ments ; as, abundance of wit, profound wisdom, 
happy discretion, perfect justice, exceeding tem- 
perance, sweet affability, and all excellencies of 
nature and morality, besides supernatural and 
theological gifts ; as, charity in a high degree, 
both towards God and his neighbour; a faith 
most constant, which would not be daunted with 
any threats or disgraces that his prince or his 
counsellors could thunder out against him, nay 
not with death itself; a magnanimity not to be 
overcome either by fear of any losses, or hopes 
of any dignities ; religion, and such devotion as 
scarcely could be looked for in any of a lay pro- 
fession ; which perfections began to shine in his 


infancy, and continued in the progress of his 
actions, and did not end, but increased by his 
most glorious death, which was an entrance into 
a most happy kingdom, wherein he both can 
and will have compassion, and help us in these 
our miseries ; because he was raised by God to 
be one of the first famous warriors in this our 
long persecution. Wherefore he may worthily 
be set before our eyes, as a perfect pattern and 
lively example to be imitated by us ; for he had 
more to lose than most men in the land, being 
second to none but to the chiefest, either in 
worldly dignity or his prince's favour ; and yet 
did he willingly forego all, yea life itself, rather 
than to wrong his conscience, in consenting to 
any thing against the law of God and justice, 
as by this ensuing discourse will particularly 


^IR THOMAS MORE was the only 
son of Sir John More, knight, one 
of the justices of the King's-bench ; 
a singular man for many rare per- 
fections which his son setteth down in his own 
epitaph, extant amongst his Latin works, term- 
ing his father a man " civil," that is to say, 
courteous and affable to all men : " sweet and 
pleasant in conversation," that is, full of merry 
conceits and witty jests : " innocent and harm- 
less," to wit, neither desirous of revenge nor 
maligning any for his own private gain : " meek 
and gentle," that is to say, of an humble carriage 
in his office and dignity : " mercyful and pitiful,'' 
that is, bountiful to the poor and full of compas- 
sion towards all distressed persons: "just and 
uncorrupted," which are the aptest titles which 
can be given to a judge, as if he would say, that 
he was neither moved with friendship, stirred up 
with hope of gain, nor wrested with any threats 
from performing his duty, and that he shut up 
always his left eye to all affection of friendship, 


and from all bribery.* Camden also reporteth 
of him, for proof of his pleasantness of wit, that 
he would compare the multitude of women 
which are to be chosen for wives unto a bag full 
of snakes having among them but one eel ; now 
if a man should put his hand into this bag, he 
may chance to light on the eel, but it is a hundred 
to one he shall be stung with a snake. f Many 
such witty similitudes would he use in private 
discourses and in public auditory. 

By these his perfections of wit and grace one 
might guess that his child was likely to prove 
singular, having so good a father. But he far 
surpassed in all these and many more excellen- 
cies ; so that our family hath been much more 
dignified by this son than he any way drew worth 
and dignity from his ancestors ; the considera- 
tion whereof hath caused many men to think 
and say, that Sir Thomas More was of mean 
parentage, and the first of his house ; yea, some 
have not stuck to write, " by birth no gentle- 
man," grounding their error upon those words 
which he setteth down in his epitaph, " Thomas 

* The words of the Epitaph which are here commented on 
are these : " Homo civilis, suavis, innocens, mitis, misericors, 
sequus et integer/' 

f See Remains, p. 251. Camden however had the anecdote 
from the writings of Sir Thomas More. He does not say from 
which, and it is not worth searching for. 


More, born of no noble family, but of an honest 
stock ;" which is true as we here in England take 
nobility and noble ; for none under a baron, un- 
less he be of the privy council, doth challenge it, 
and in this sense he meant it. But as the Latin 
word " nobilis"* is taken in other countries for 
gentry, it was otherwise : for Judge More bore 
arms from his birth, having his coat quartered,f 

* The word " nobilis" does not however in fact occur in the 
epitaph. The expression is, " familia non celebri sed honesta 
natus." Sir John is, as far as is known, the first of his family. 
The only attempt at carrying up the pedigree above him is in 
that valuable volume of the Ashmole Library, F. 7, where we 
have the descent and alliances of many persons connected with 
our literature. But the attempt is very unsuccessful. It 
only shows the name of his grandmother, who was Joan, 
daughter of John Leicester. She married More, and had 

More, father to Sir John. This pedigree shows two 

brothers of Sir John, named Richard and Christopher, who 
are not noticed in the printed accounts of the family. It might 
be in reference to reflections cast on Sir Thomas More's des- 
cent, that Richard Croke, in the dedication of his translation 
of a grammatical work of Theodorus in 1516, having occasion 
to mention Sir Thomas More, describes him as " vir et moribus 
et literis et natalibus generosissimus." 

t More does not write as if he were acquainted with the 
technical language of armoury. What he means is, that Sir 
John More used to quarter the arms of some other family with 
his own ; which showed, that he not only inherited arms from 
his paternal ancestors, but that he was descended also from the 
heiress of some other family entitled to the distinction of coat- 


which doth argue that he came to his inheritance 
by descent ; and therefore, although by reason 
of King Henry's seizure of all our evidences, we 
cannot certainly tell who were Sir John's ances- 
tors, yet must they needs be gentlemen, and as 
I have heard, either came out of the Mores of 
Ireland, or they came out of us. And as for Sir 
Thomas More, he was, as I have said, a knight's 
eldest son, and sole heir to a judge of this realm. 

But whatsoever the family was or is, if virtue 
can ennoble any, sure it hath by these two ex- 
cellent men been made no ways contemptible. 
Yet if we, as God forbid we should, degenerate 
from their footsteps, we may cause it soon to be 
base and of small reckoning, vice being the chief 
stain that tainteth even the noblest families. 

The name of Sir Thomas' mother was Hand- 
combe, of Holliwell in Bedfordshire ; yet Doctor 
Stapleton had not heard so much, who saith, 
that her name is unknown ;* by reason of which 
words some have taken great exceptions, as 
though she had been some base woman, though 
he doth in the same place tell this reason thereof, 

armour. The arms quartered with those of More on the mo- 
nument at Chelsey are, three bezants on a chevron between 
three unicorns' heads. 

* Stapleton's words seem to imply, that Sir Thomas did not 
himself know the name of his mother : " Matris nomen nesci- 
tur, quippe quse adhuc infante Thoma Moro mortua est." 


" because she died soon after she had brought 
forth this child ;" but to have been a woman of 
more than ordinary virtue, that, which Doctor 
Clement reporteth from Sir Thomas' own mouth 
of a vision which she had the next night after 
her marriage, seemeth, in my judgment, forcibly 
to argue : in which she saw in her sleep, as it 
were engraven in her wedding ring, the number 
and favour of all her children she was to have, 
whereof the face of one was so dark and obscure, 
that she could not well discern it ; and indeed 
afterwards, she suffered of one of her children 
an untimely delivery. But the face of one of 
her other, she beheld shining most gloriously, 
whereby no doubt Sir Thomas's fame and sanc- 
tity were fore-showed and presignified. 

She brought forth before him to Sir John two 
daughters ; one called Jane, afterwards married 
to a noble gentleman called Richard Stafforton ; 
and Elizabeth, wife to the worthy gentleman 
Mr. John Rastall, Judge Rastall's father. Sir 
John, after his first wife's death, married succes- 
sively two others ; Mrs. Bowes, widow, before 
called Barton, and Alice, one of the Mores of 
Surry, great aunt unto Sir William More, whose 
son now living, is Sir George More, lieutenant 
of the Tower of London, a man no way inferior 
to his noble ancestors.* This lady outlived her 

* The printed copies omit the name of the second wife. 


son-in-law, Sir Thomas, dwelling upon her join- 
ture in Hertfordshire, at a capital messuage 
called then More Place, now Gobions, in the 
parish of North Mimms ; but being a little before 
her death thrust out of all by King Henry's fury, 
she died at Northall, a mile from thence, and 
there lieth buried. 

Sir Thomas was born at London, in Milk 
Street, where the judge his father, for the most 
part dwelt, in the year of our Lord 1480,* in the 
twentieth year of the reign of Edward the Fourth. 
Shortly after his birth God would show by 
another sign, how dear this babe was unto him : 

After speaking of Sir George More, this clause is added, " if 
his religion were answerable to their's;" and " no way inferior," 
is changed to " little inferior." 

* This is the date usually given as that of More's birth, on 
the authority of this work ; neither Roper nor Stapleton having 
mentioned it. More has here followed the inscription on the 
painting of the More family at Burford. We may observe, that 
if Lewis has given the inscriptions correctly from the Well Hall 
picture, or if those inscriptions were themselves correct, Sir 
Thomas More's birth should be carried back to 1476, for he 
was " aged 50" when Anne Cresacre was " aged 15," and her 
birth is fixed by very decisive evidence to 1511. As there is a 
correspondency between the two paintings in the ages of the 
other parties, we should probably rather follow the Burford 
picture in the age of Anne Cresacre, who is there said to be 
" 18" when Sir Thomas was " 50," and Sir John " 76." Pitz 
says, that Sir Thomas was in his 52nd year at the time of his 
death, 1535; which would bring down his birth to about 1484. 


For his nurse chancing to ride with him over a 
water, and her horse stepping aside into a deep 
place put both her and the child in great 
jeopardy ; whose harms she seeking suddenly to 
prevent, threw the infant over a hedge into a 
field near adjoining, and after by God's help 
escaping safe also, when she came to take him 
up again, she found him to have no hurt at all, 
but sweetly smiled upon her, that it might well 
be said of him " Angelis suis Deus mandavit de 
te, ne te forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum ;" 
and not his foot only but his whole body. 

This was no doubt a happy presage of his 
future holiness, and put his parents in mind that 
he was that shining child of whom his mother 
had that former vision. Wherefore the father 
had the greater care to bring him up in learning 
as soon as his tender age would permit it. And 
so he put him to the free school in London 
called St. Anthony's,* where he had a famous 

* One of the four Grammar Schools founded in London 
by King Henry VI. a great patron of good learning, in the 
twenty-fourth year of his reign. In the time of Sir Thomas 
More, St. Anthony's was the most famous school in London. 
" I myself in my youth," saith Stowe, " have yearly seen, on 
the eve of St. Bartholomew, the apostle, the scholars of divers 
grammar schools repair unto the church-yard of St. Bartholo- 
mew, the Priory in Smithfield, where, upon a bank boarded 
about, under a tree, some one scholar hath stepped up, and 


and learned man, called Nicholas Holt, for his 
master ; under whom, when he had rather gree- 
dily devoured than leisurely chewed the grammar 
rules, he outstripped far, both in towardliness of 
wit and diligence of endeavour, all his school- 
fellows, with whom he was matched. And being 
born to far greater matters, his father procured 
him to be placed shortly after in the house of 
the most worthy prelate that then lived in Eng- 
land, both for wisdom, learning and virtue, 
whose like the world scarce had, Cardinal Mor- 
ton, archbishop of Canterbury, and lord high 
chancellor of England, whose grave counte- 

there hath apposed and answered, till he were by some better 
scholar overcome and put down : and then the over-comer 
taking the place, did like as the first: and in the end the best 
apposers and answerers had rewards : which I observed not 
but it made good schoolmasters and also good scholars dili- 
gently against such times to prepare themselves for the obtain- 
ing of this garland. I remember there repaired to these 
exercises, amongst others, the masters and scholars of the free 
schools of St. Paul's in London, of St. Peter's at Westminster, 
of St. Thomas Aeon's Hospital, and of St. Anthony's Hospital; 
whereof the last named commonly presented the best scholars 
and had the prize in those days." London, p. 75. He men- 
tions among the famous persons who have sprung from this 
school, Sir Thomas More, Nicholas Heath, archbishop of York 
and lord chancellor, and Whitgift, archbishop of Canterbury. 
The school was in Threadneedle Street. It had fallen to decay 
in the time of Stowe, and come to nothing. London, p. 186. 
Of Nicholas Holt, the good schoolmaster, little is known. 


nance and carriage was such that he easily 
allured all men to honour and love him : a man, 
as Sir Thomas More describes him in his Utopia, 
of incomparable judgment, a memory more than 
credible, eloquent in speech, and, which is more 
to be wished in clergymen, of singular wisdom 
and virtue ; so that the king and the common- 
wealth relied chiefly on this man's counsel, as he 
by whose policy king Henry the seventh both 
got the crown of England from Richard the 
the usurper, and also most happily procured the 
two houses of Lancaster and York to be united 
by marriage. 

In this famous man's house this youth 
learned most diligently abundance of wisdom 
and virtue; and now he began to show to the 
world what man he was likely to prove. For 
the Cardinal often would make trial of his pre- 
sent wit, especially at Christmas merriments, 
when having plays for recreation, this youth 
would suddenly step up amongst the players, and 
never studying before upon the matter, make 
often a part upon his own invention, which was 
so witty and so full of jests, that he alone made 
more sport and laughter than all the players 
besides; for which his towardliness the Cardinal 
much delighted in him, and would often say of 
him unto divers of the nobility who at sundry 



times dined with him, that that boy there waiting 
on him, whosoever should live to see it, would 
prove a marvellous rare man. 

But when this reverend prelate saw that he 
could not profit so much in his house as he de- 
sired, where there were many distractions of 
public affairs, having great care of his bringing 
up, he sent him to the University, and placed 
him in Canterbury College at Oxford, now 
called Christ Church, where in two years' space 
that he remained there, he profited exceedingly 
in rhetoric, logic and philosophy, and showed 
evidently, what wonders wit and diligence can 
perform, when joined, as seldom they are, in one 
painful student. There his whole mind was set 
on his book ; for in his allowance, his father 
kept him very short, suffering him scarcely to 
have so much money in his own custody as 
would pay for the mending of his apparel, even 
no more than necessity required; and for his 
expenses he would expect of him a particular 
account ; which course of his father he would 
often speak of and praise, when he came to 
riper years ; affirming that by this means he was 
curbed from all vice and withdrawn from many 
idle expenses, either of gaming or other naughty 
company, so that he knew neither play nor other 
riot, wherein most young men in these our 


lamentable days plunge themselves too timely, 
to the utter overthrow as well of learning as all 
future virtue. 

This strictness of his father increased in 
him also great reverence after unto him again, 
in so much that in all his life after he was so 
dutiful unto him, that he never offended nor 
contradicted him in any the least word or action, 
still showing towards him admirable deeds of 
humility, even in that time when in the eye of 
the world, he far surpassed his father in dignity, 
which may be seen by piis]] asking him blessing 
every day duly, even after he was lord chancel* 
lor of England. And when he and his father 
met publickly at Lincoln's Inn, or other where, 
he would still offer him the place of precedence, 
though the Judge, by reason of his son's office, 
did still refuse it : such was the piety and sub- 
missive mind of this humble man. Such again 
was the provident care of the father towards his 
son, that one can hardly guess which of the two 
were more worthy the father of such a son, or 
the son of such a father : yet I judge the father 
more happy that enjoyed such an admirable son, 
and wish that my children may imitate in this 
kind their virtuous ancestor. 




HEN this towardly youth was 
come to the age of eighteen 
years, he began to show to the 
world his ripeness of wit ; for 
he wrote many witty and goodly epigrams, 
which are to be seen in the beginning of his 
English works. He composed also many pretty 
and elegant verses of the vanity of this life, 
and the inconstancy thereof, which his father 
caused to be set up with pictures and pageants, 
which are also in the beginning of his great 
English volume.* He translated for his exer- 
cise one of Lucian's Orations out of Greek 
into Latin, which he called his first fruits of 
the Greek tongue ; and thereto he added 
another oration of his own to answer that of 
Lucian's ; for as he defended him who had 
slain a tyrant, he opposeth another with such 
forcible arguments that this seemeth not to 

* Those to whom the Works of More is a book not easily 
accessible, may find these verses in the Appendix to Mr. 
Singer's Edition of Roper's Life of More. No. XXI. 


give place to Lucian's, either in invention 
or eloquence. Now as concerning his divers 
Latin epigrams, which he either translated out 
of Greek into Latin, or else composed of his 
own, many famous authors that then lived do 
make mention of them with great praise. For 
Beatus Rhenanus in his epistle to Bilibaldus 
Pitcheimerus writeth thus; " Thomas More is 
marvelous in every place, for he eompoundeth 
most elegantly, and translateth most happily. 
How sweetly doth his verses flow from him. 
How nothing in them seemeth constrained. 
How easy are all things there that he speaketh 
of. Nothing is hard, nothing rugged, nothing 
obscure. He is pure, he is witty, he is elegant. 
Besides he doth so temper all things with mirth, 
that I never read a merrier man. I could think 
that the Muses have heaped on him alone, all 
their pleasant conceits and witty merriments. 
Moreover his quips are not biting, but full of 
pleasantness and very proper ; yea rather any 
thing than stinging ; for he jesteth, but without 
mordacity; he scoffeth, yet without contumely." 
The like judgment of his epigrams doth that 
famous poet, Leodegarius a Quercu, public rea- 
der of Humanity in Paris, give, and that not so 
much by his words as by his deeds : for he, 
having gathered of the epigrams of divers singu- 
lar famous men a collection, he hath set out 


more epigrams of Sir Thomas More's than of any 
other writer. Yet because rareness of any excel- 
lent quality is still envied by some man or other, 
one Brictius, a German, wrote a book against 
these epigrams of Sir Thomas More, which he 
calleth Anti-Morus, but with such commen- 
dation that, Erasmus earnestly besought Sir 
Thomas that he would not overwhelm his friend 
Brictius with such an answer as his rashness 
deserved : adding this of his foolish book Anti- 
Morus " I hear what learned men speak of 
Brictius now after he hath written his Anti- 
Morus, which as I hear them not willingly of 
him, so would I not willingly hear them so 
spoken of you. Wherefore seeing, I perceive, 
how hard a matter it is to temper an answer to 
so spiteful a book, but that you must give scope 
unto your passions, therefore I deem it best for 
you to despise and condemn utterly the whole 
matter. Yet this I could not, most excellent 
More, counsel you to do, if there were any thing 
in that malicious Anti-Morus which did truly 
blemish your fame, so that it were necessary for 
you to wipe it away," &c. Which friendly 
counsel Sir Thomas in some sort followed : for 
although he had answered Brictius fully in a 
little treatise, which already he had published, 
before this letter from Erasmus came to his 
hands, yet upon the receipt thereof, he endea- 


v cured by all the means lie could, to get all the 
copies again into his hands, and then suppress 
the book, so that it is now very hardly to be 
found, though some have seen it of late. And 
Sir Thomas sent Erasmus a letter to this effect, 
that although Brictius by his malicious book had 
endeavoured so much to disgrace him, that he 
wanted no will but skill and power to overthrow 
his name utterly, yet this should prevail more 
with him, that Brictius was friend to Erasmus 
than that he was his own enemy. Which kind 
of answer showeth expressly how easy he was 
to forgive injuries, especially such as touched 
him so near in his reputation : following herein 
the counsel of Christ himself in the Gospel of 
St. Matthew, who saith, " Love your enemies, 
and do good to them that hate you : that you 
may be the true imitators of God, who causeth 
the sun to shine as well upon the wicked as on 
the just." But can we think so heroical an act 
in so young years, for he was not now of the full 
age of twenty years, as Rhenanus writing to 
Bilibaldus testifieth, could proceed from one 
who had not been practised before in the school 
of Christ, and in the earnest search of perfection. 
Surely no ; for this young man had, even from 
his infancy, laboured with all might and main to 
enrich himself with all virtues ; knowing that 
learning without virtue is to set precious stones 


in rotten wood, and, as the wise man saith, as a 
gold ring in a hog's snout.* 

When he was about eighteen or twenty years 

old he began to wear a sharp shirt of 

hair next the skin, which he never left off wholly, 
no, not when he was lord chancellor of England. 
Which my grandmother on a time in the heat of 

* Mr. Cayley has given a satisfactory account of the affairs 
between More and Brictius. " Brictius had written a poem in 
1513, entitled Chordigera, describing an action of that year 
between the English ship Regent, and the French ship La Cor- 
deliere. As he had given a false account of the engagement, 
and insulted and calumniated the English, More wrote several 
epigrams in derision of the poem. Brictius piqued at the 
affront, revenged himself by an elegy, which he entitled, Anti- 
Morus, in which he severely censured all the faults which he 
thought he had found in the poems of More : but the piece 
was not published till 1520, and then at Paris, " in compliance 
with the wishes of the author's friends." Erasmus in a very 
good letter to Brictius, civilly though freely, insinuated to him, 
that he was a very child compared to More, and launched out as 
usual in praise of his English friend. More at first despised 
the poem, and wrote to Erasmus that, to prove to the world the 
contempt in which he held it, he had a design of re-printing it 
himself. He however afterward wrote an answer to it ; which 
was no sooner published, than he received a letter from Erasmus, 
wisely exhorting him to pass the matter in silent contempt, for 
that alone was the conduct which the attack deserved. Sir 
Thomas soon saw his error, and following his friend's advice, he 
immediately recalled the publication, so that very few copies of 
it escaped into the world." Cayley's Memoirs of Sir Thomas 
More, p. 79. 


summer espying, laughed at, not being much 
sensible of spiritual exercises, being carried away 
in her youth with the bravery of the world, and 
not knowing " quae sunt spiritus," what is the true 
wisdom of a Christian man. He added also to 
his austerity a whip every Friday and high fast- 
ing days, thinking that such cheer was the best 
alms that he could bestow upon himself ....".. 
He used also much fasting and watching, lying 
often upon the bare ground, or upon some bench, 
laying some log under his head ; allotting him- 
self but four or five hours in a night at the most, 
for his sleep, imagining with the holy saints of 
Christ's church, that his body was to be used as 
an ass, with strokes and hard fare, lest pro- 
vender might prick it, and so bring his soul, like 
a head-strong jade, to the bottomless pit of 
hell He had enured himself with strait- 
ness, that he might the better enter in at the 
narrow gate of heaven, which is not got with 
ease, " sed violent! rapiunt illud," that is, they that 
are boisterous against themselves snatch it away 
by force. 

For this cause he lived four years amongst 
the Carthusians, dwelling near the Charter- 
House, frequenting daily their spiritual exercises, 
but without any vow. He had an earnest mind 
also to be a Franciscan friar, that he might serve 
God in a state of perfection. But finding that 


at that time religious men* had somewhat dege- 
nerated from their ancient strictness and fervour 
of spirit, he altered his mind. He had also, 
after that, together with his faithful companion 
Lillie, a purpose to be a priest ; yet God had 
allotted him for another state, not to live solitary, 
but that he might be a pattern to remind married 
men how they should carefully bring up their 
children ; how dearly they should love their 
wives, how they should employ their endeavours 
wholly for the good of their country, yet excel- 
lently perform the virtues of religious men, as 
piety, charity, humility, obedience, yea, conjugal 

He heard mass every day before he under- 
took any worldly business ; which custom he 
kept so religiously, that being on a time sent for 
to the king whilst he was hearing mass, he would 
not once stir, though he were twice or thrice 
sent for, until it was wholly finished, answering 
them that urged him to run quickly, that he 
thought fit to perform his duty first to a better 
man than the king was; imitating therein the 
famous act of St. Ludgar, first bishop of Munster, 
who being sent for to Charles the Great, whilst 
he was singing in the quire the canonical hours, 
he would not once stir till all were ended. And 

* The printed copies add, " in England." 


being asked by the emperor, why he neglected 
to come when he was sent for unto him, an- 
swered, " I have always thought your command 
is by me to be obeyed, as I doubted not but God 
is to be preferred : therefore, I have been care- 
ful to finish that which I was about, not for the 
contempt of your imperial majesty, but for your 
safety and the duty which I owe unto God;" 
with which answer the emperor no whit dis- 
pleased, but delighted, answered him with thanks, 
saying, that he had now found him such a one 
as he had ever formerly thought him to be. 
Neither was King Henry at that time any way 
angry with Sir Thomas, but rather highly pleased 
for this his neglect. He used every day to say 
our Lady's matins, the seven psalms and litanies, 
and many times the gradual psalms with " Beati 
immaculati in via," and divers other private 
prayers, which he himself composed. He se- 
lected also many sentences of the psalms, imi- 
tating therein St. Jerome's Psalter ; which are 
extant in the latter end of his English works. 

When he determined to marry, he pro- 
pounded to himself for a pattern in life a sin- 
gular layman, John Picus, Earl of Mirandula, 
who was a man most famous for virtue, and 
most eminent for learning. His life he trans- 
lated and set out, as also many of his most 
worthy letters, and his Twelve Precepts of Good 


Life, which are extant in the beginning of his 
English works. For this end he also wrote a 
treatise both learned, spiritual, and devout, of 
the Four last Things of Man. He left it im- 
perfect, being called by his father to other stu- 
dies. He frequented many sermons, especially 
of those men who were most excellent for good 
life, and spiritual direction, such as Doctor 
Colet, the most famous Dean of Paul's ; who, as 
Erasmus writeth, was wont every day to preach 
at Paul's ; besides many other sermons which he 
made at the court, or elsewhere, expounding in 
them the Pater Noster, the Apostles' Creed, the 
Ten Commandments, the Seven Sacraments, or 
some other matter of necessary instructions, 
which he never left off until he had perfected 
the whole ; that thereby every one might learn 
what they should believe, what to follow, and 
what to shun ; and the means how every Chris- 
tian might come to perfection in their sundry 
states of life : and his life did not disagree with 
his doctrine, for he exercised himself in all works 
of charity, and mortification of the flesh. He 
erected and founded the goodly free school of 
Paul's, dedicating it to the little boy Jesus, as 
he was found disputing with the doctors, at 
twelve years old ; of which famous act, Sir Tho- 
mas writing unto him, compareth it by a fit 
antithesis to the horse of Troy, out of which the 


Grecians issued to surprise that city : " in like 
manner," saith he, " out of this your school 
many had come that have subverted and over- 
thrown all ignorance and rudeness." But fear- 
ing lest all these his devout exercises might 
not be so meritorious if he followed only his own 
will, for a young man is in great danger of him- 
self to want discretion, the mother of all virtues ; 
therefore he chose this worthy dean for his 
ghostly father, for he was accounted one of the 
cunningest physicians for the soul that could be 
found, and a safe guide of perfection in the 
dangerous passage of youth, that by his expe- 
rience he might the more easily overcome the 
devil, the world, and his own flesh, by following 
his wholesome lessons ; neither to overthrow 
his own body, nor do harm to his soul; to 
whom he was as obedient in all spiritual affairs, 
as he was to his father in all dutiful obligation, 
whereby he arrived to proper obedience, one of 
the chiefest helps that a spiritual man can have 
to heaven. And because every man may see 
what affection he bore unto this man, his ghostly 
physician, I set down here a most excellent 
letter of Sir Thomas More's to Doctor Colet, 
which beginneth thus : 

" As I was lately walking in Cheapside, and 
busying myself about other men's causes, I met 
by chance your servant, at whose first encoun- 


ter I was marvellously rejoiced, both because he 
hath been always dear unto me, and also espe- 
cially for that I thought he was not come to 
London without yourself. But when I had 
learned of him that you were not returned, nor 
minded to return of a long space, it cannot be 
expressed how my great joy was turned into 
extreme sorrow and sadness: for what could 
happen more troublesome unto me than to be 
deprived of your most grateful and moral con- 
versation, whose wholesome counsels I was wont 
to enjoy, with whose delightful familiarity I was 
accustomed to be recreated, by whose weighty 
sermons I have been often stirred up to devotion, 
by whose life and example I have been much 
amended in mine own, finally in whose very face 
and countenance I have settled my trust and 
confidence of my progress in virtue. Wherefore 
as I found myself greatly strengthened whilst I 
found and enjoyed those helps, so do I see my- 
self weakened and brought almost to nothing^ 
being deprived of them so long. For having 
heretofore by following your footsteps, almost 
escaped out of the pit of hell, so now, like ano- 
ther Eurydice, but in a contrary manner, for 
she was left there, because Orpheus looked back 
upon her, but I fall again by a certain fatal 
necessity in that dangerous downfall, for that 
you cast not your eye upon me. And what I 


pray is there in this city that doth move any 
man to live well, and not rather by a thousand 
subtleties and devices swallow him up in wicked- 
ness, who would endeavour to climb up to the 
hard hill of virtue. Whither soever any one 
cometh, what can he find but the feigned love, 
and the honey poison of venomous flattery ; in 
one place cruel hatred, and in another suits 
and quarrels most pestiferous and hateful. 

" Whither soever we cast our eyes what 
can we see but victualling-houses, fishmongers, 
butchers, cooks, pudding-makers, fishermen, and 
fowlers, who minister matter to our bellies, 
and set forward the service of the world and 
the flesh. Yea, the houses themselves, I know 
not how, bereave us of a great part of our sight 
of heaven, neither do they suffer us to look 
freely towards it, so that our horizontal circle is 
wholly cut short by the height of continued 
buildings. For which cause I pardon you the 
more easily that you do delight to remain still 
in the country where you are, for you find there 
a company of plain souls void of all craft where- 
with citizens do most abound. Wheresoever 
you look, the earth yieldeth you a pleasant 
prospect, the temperature of the air refresheth 
you, and the very bounds of the heavens do 
delight you. You find nothing there but boun- 
teous gifts of nature, and saint-like tokens of 


innocency. Yet I would not have you so car- 
ried away with those contentments, that you 
should be stayed from hastening hither ; for if the 
discommodity of the city do pester you, yet your 
parish of Stepney, of which you should have great 
care, may afford you like delight to these which 
you now enjoy, from whence you may quickly 
return to London as into your inn, where you 
may find great matter of merit. In the country 
men are most commonly innocent, or at least not 
loaden with great offence, and therefore any 
physician may administer physic unto them; 
but as for citizens, both because they are a multi- 
tude, and also for their inveterate customs in 
sinning, none can help them but he that is very 
skilful. There come into the pulpit at Paul's 
divers men that promise to cure the diseases of 
others, but their lives do so jar with their sayings, 
that when they have preached a goodly process, 
they rather provoke to anger than assuage any 
sore ; for they cannot persuade men that they 
are fit to cure others, when themselves (God 
wot) are most sick and crazy, which causeth 
them that have ulcered sores not to endure to be 
touched or lanced by such ignorant physicians. 
But if such a one be accounted by learned men 
most fit to cure, in whom the sick man hath 
greatest hope, who doubteth then that you alone 
are the fittest to cure their maladies, whom every 


one is willing to touch their imposthumes, and 
in whom what confidence every one hath, both 
you have heretofore sufficiently tried, and now 
the desire that every one hath of your speedy 
return may manifest the cause more evidently. 
Return, therefore, my dear Colet, at least for 
Stepney's sake, which mourneth your absence 
no less than a child doth for his mother ; or else 
for London's sake, in respect it is your native 
country, whereof you can have no less regard 
than of your own parents. Finally, although 
this be the least motive, return for my sake, who 
have wholly dedicated myself to your direction, 
and do most earnestly desire your return. In 
the mean while I pass my time with Grocine, 
Linacre, and Lilly*; the first, as you know, the 

* Happy is the man who has three such friends. The age 
did not present, at least in England, three more learned, more 
useful, or better men than Grocine, Linacre, and Lilly. Gro- 
cine was many years older than More. He was the divinity 
reader at Oxford, and the first who taught Greek literature in 
that university. Linacre was the famous physician of that 
name, and had been More's tutor in Greek, at Oxford ; and 
Lilly, who was nearer More's own age, was distinguished by 
his attainments in Greek literature, and his accuracy as a 
grammarian. He has been mentioned before in this life. 
When More intended to take upon himself the office of the 
priesthood, Lilly, it appears, entertained the same design. 
With this agrees what Wood relates of him, that soon after 
he left Oxford, he undertook a journey to Jerusalem for reli- 



director of my life in your absence ; the second, 
the master of my studies ; the third, my most 
dear companion. Farewell, and see you love me 
as you have done hitherto. 
" London, '21 October." 

By this letter it may clearly be seen how he 
gave himself, even from his youth, to the true 
rules of devotion, that thereby he sought to 
profit as well in holiness as in learning ; for if 
Christ hath pronounced them happy that hunger 
and thirst after justice, surely in this letter he 
showed a great earnestness to aspire to perfec- 
tion*'; and his example may move all his to 
follow his footsteps herein, that their chief and 
principal endeavour in their youth be to seek 

gion's sake. On his return he stayed some time in the Isle of 
Rhodes, studying the Greek and Latin tongues. At Rome 
he attended the lectures in grammar and rhetoric of Sulpitius 
and Sabinus; and on his return home, opened a school in 
London, where he taught grammar, poetry, and rhetoric. When 
Colet had founded his school at St. Paul's, he named Lilly 
the first master. Such a choice of intimate friends is highly 
honourable to More, who was then young ; and not less honour- 
able is it to him that he was thought worthy of their friend- 

* This word, " perfection," which occurs so often, is used 
in a Catholic sense of it, founded on the saying of our Lord, 
" If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give 
to the poor." In the mendicant orders this state of perfection 
was supposed to be exhibited. 


out a skilful physician of the soul, who both can 
and will guide us in the path of Catholic doc- 
trine and duty, and when we have found him, to 
follow his counsel precisely, and make the secrets 
of our hearts known unto him. 

This dutifulness of the ghostly child to so 
rare a father made Colet also admire this young 
man's towardliness, so that this doctor would 
profess to many, and at sundry times say that 
there was but one wit in England, and that was 
young Thomas More, although many flourishing 
youths at that time lived in England which were 
of hopeful expectation. And no doubt God did 
further him with particular grace and towardli- 
ness, because he was so extraordinarily devout, 
so that I do imagine it may be said of Sir Thomas 
which Saint Thomas Aquinas witnesseth of him- 
self, that he learned more by prayer and spiri- 
tual exercises, than ever he could do by any 
study; for what study soever Sir Thomas applied 
himself unto, he grew in short time most famous 

And, first, how great a poet he was accounted 
even in his youth, we have already partly re- 
hearsed. Then what declamations he made, full 
of all rhetorical eloquence, to the amazement of 
all his auditory, many have witnessed who heard 
them and have read them. How pure a Latin 
style he attained unto, his singular epistles, yet 


extant, to divers personages do evidently show ; 
so that one would imagine he had spent all his 
life time in humanity only. And although his 
towardliness to eloquence seemed far to dis- 
agree with the serious studies of the common 
law of this land, so that few could suppose that 
such a wit would have had the patience to have 
taken a law-book in hand, yet such was his 
obedience to his father, that at his command he 
studied busily the law. 

He used to eat at his meals but of one dish, 
which was most commonly powdered beef, or 
some salt meat (although his" table was always 
furnished with much variety), and what meat he 
first tasted, on the same would he for that time 
make his whole refection upon. In his youth 
he abstained wholly from wine. In his latter 
years he would taste thereof, but first it must 
be well allayed with water, as Erasmus to Hut- 
tenus witnesseth. He had no care what appa- 
rel he wore, insomuch that being once told by 
his secretary, Mr. Harris*, that his shoes were 

* John Harris, a favourite servant, who has the honour to 
be introduced into Holbein's painting of the family. He lies 
buried at Neumarck, in Germany, in the same church with his 
son-in-law, John Fowler, a native of Bristol, who settled as a 
printer at Antwerp and Louvaine. Fowler published an edi- 
tion of" The Dialogue of Comfort," Antwerp, 1573, 8vo. with 
a portrait of Sir Thomas More, very well executed. 


all torn, he bade him tell his man that looked 
to him thereof to buy him new, whom for this 
cause he called his tutor, for he bought all his 
apparel at his own discretion, Sir Thomas never 
busying his head about such base matters, 
chusing rather to be in all things at the discre- 
tion of others than at his own guiding, that he 
might in all his actions exercise the true virtues 
of a Christian man, obedience and humility. 
Yea, although he were more wise and dexterous 
in discerning all truth from falsehood and virtue 
from cloked vice, yet would he for the most 
part in his greatest affairs and studies ask his 
man Harris his advice and counsel, and if he 
thought the contrary better, he would willingly 
submit himself to his opinion, for Harris was a 
man of great judgment, a trusty servant, and of 
an excellent deep understanding. 

These were his foundations on which he laid 
his future building : which by how much the 
more it was to be raised to splendour and beauty 
by so much he laid his ground-work of humility 
the lower : and whatsoever hardness he used se- 
cretly, still kept he in outward semblance a sin- 
gular alacrity, being merry in all company and 
full of jests, chiefly eschewing the vice of singu- 
larity. Yea he was very cunning in dissembling 
his virtues so that few came to know what holy 
exercises he practised, even as in his writings he 


often feigned matters cunningly to have heard 
them of others which he himself invented, as in 
the preface of his Utopia he artificially discours- 
eth as though Raphael Hithlodius had told that 
whole story unto him, " commento perjucundo," 
as Paulus Jovius doth testify. So he feigned as 
if an Englishman called Rosseus had pleasantly 
confuted Luther's book, as he discoursed with 
his host in Italy, who afterwards published all 
their communication in print, by which means 
Luther could never learn who he was that an- 
swered him, after his own furious fashion, which 
angered him sore. Lastly, his three books of 
Comfort in Tribulation, a work most excellent 
and divine, he invented to have been spoken 
by two Hungarian kinsmen, about the Turk's 
persecution ; but thereby he most lively repre- 
sented the terrible storms of cruelty which King 
Henry the Eighth and heresy would raise in our 
poor distressed country. 



IR Thomas having determined, by 
the advice and direction of his 
ghostly father, to be a married 
man, there was at that time a plea- 
sant conceited gentleman, of an ancient family in 
Essex, one Mr. John Colt, of New Hall, from 
whom Sir Henry Colt that now liveth is lineally 
descended, that invited him unto his house, 
being much delighted in his company, proffer- 
ing unto him the choice of any of his daughters, 
who were young gentlewomen of very good 
carriage, good complexions, and very religiously 
inclined ; whose honest and sweet conversation, 
and virtuous education, enticed Sir Thomas not 
a little ; and although his affection most served 
him to the second, for that he thought her the 
fairest and best favoured, yet when he thought 
with himself that it would be a grief and some 
blemish to the eldest to have the younger sister 
preferred before her, he out of a kind of com- 
passion, settled his fancy upon the eldest, and 


soon after married her with all her friends' good 

Now when he began to be clogged with wife 
and family, children also began to grow fast 
upon him, for his wife (whose name was Jane) 
as long as she lived, which was but some six 
years, brought unto him almost every year a 
child, for whose maintenance he applied himself 
busily to the practice of the law ; and because 
he would have his wife near unto his father, he 
placed her in Buckler's Bury. By her he had 
one son, called John More, my own grandfather, 
who was his youngest child, and three daugh- 
ters ; his eldest Margaret, a woman of singular 
wit and wisdom, rare piety, and more than 
extraordinary learning, who was married to 
William Roper, of Eltham, in the county of 
Kent, esq., whose grandchild, now living, is Sir 
William Roper. The second, Elizabeth, was 
afterwards matched with Sir John Dancey's son 
and heir. The third, called Cecily, was married 
to Giles Heron, of Shackle well, in the county of 

* The Baronetage speaks of five daughters of the Colts, 
who all married : Jane to Sir Thomas More, Alice to Edmund 
Buggs, esq., Mary to William Kemp, of Finchingfield, esq., 
whose daughter married George Cavendish, gentleman usher 
to Cardinal Wolsey, Bridget to Lawrence Foster, esq. and 
to Copledike. 


Middlesex, esq. His son, my grandfather, mar- 
ried Anne Cresacre, sole daughter and heir of 
Edward Cresacre, of Baronborough, in the 
county of York, esq., whom Sir Thomas bought 
of the king, being his ward, upon error for ano- 
ther body's land, lying in the same town, as was 
afterwards proved. My great grandmother, 
having brought forth these four children, died 
soon after ; and within two or three years he 
married one Mrs. Alice Middleton, a widow, in 
London, by whom he had no children. This 
he did, because she might have care of his 
children, that were very young, from whom of 
necessity he must be very often absent. She 
was of good years, of no good favour nor com- 
plexion, nor very rich ; by disposition very near 
and worldly. I have heard it reported, he 
wooed her for a friend of his, not once thinking 
to have her himself; but she wittily answering 
him, that he might speed if he would speak in 
his own behalf, telling his friend what she had 
said, with his good liking he married her ; and 
did that perhaps which otherwise he would 
never have thought to have done. And indeed 
her favour, as I think, could not have bewitched 
or scarce ever moved any man to love her ; but 
yet she proved a kind and careful mother-in-law 
to his children, as he was always a most loving 
father, not only to his own, but to her daughter, 


who was married after to Mr. Allington, and 
mother to Sir Giles*. He brought up together 
with his own children, as one of them, Marga- 
ret Giggs, after wife to Doctor Clement, a 
famous physician, who proved also very famous 
for her many excellent parts, as learning, virtue, 
and wisdom. All these he bred most carefully 
to learning, and many godly exercises ; often 
exhorting them to take virtue for their meat, 
and play for their sauce ; getting good means to 
maintain them by his practice in the law, which 
he first studied in an inn of chancery, called 
New Inn, where he profited exceedingly ; and 
from thence went to Lincoln's Inn, of which 
house his father then was, where he allotted 
him small allowance for the reasons before 
alleged ; and, as it seemed, his great patron, the 
good cardinal was now dead. 

But he so applied that study whereto he 
betook himself (being apt to any), that in short 

* This is inconsistent with what is found concerning the 
Allingtons, in the peerages. A Sir Giles Allington, who was 
with Henry VIII. at the siege of Bulloigne, married to his 
second wife, Alice, daughter of John Middleton, sister and 
heiress of Thomas Middleton, and widow of Thomas Erling- 
ton, esquires. She had three sons, William, Richard, and 
Philip ; but no Giles. Sir Giles, who appears to be the per- 
son intended by Mr. More, was a grandson of Sir Giles, who 
married Alice Middleton, but by a former wife. Such at least 
is the account in the peerages. 


time he was made and accounted a worthy outer 
barrister ; yea, still proceeding with most notable 
fame,, he became a double reader*, to which few 
but rare and singular lawyers do ever attain. 
Every one began to admire him both for a man 
of judgment,, uprightness, and other most excel- 
lent parts, as ready delivery, boldness in a just 
cause, and diligence in his client's case, and no 
great taker of money, unless he had thoroughly 
deserved ; for which causes every man strived 
to have him of their counsel in all suits. The 
city of London chose him within a while judge 
of the Sheriff's Courtf, some say recorder of 

* Stapleton, In his Life of More, thus explains what is meant 
here by a double reader. " Juri municipali seu legum Britan- 
nicarum studio operam dedit, in eoque tantos progressus fecit, 
ut turn in hoc jure bis legerit, vacationum tempore, quod a 
festo S. Joan. Baptistse usque ad S. Mlchaelem excurrit. Est 
autemhoc legendi munus valde apud nostros splendidum, quod 
non nisi senioribus defertur, et non nisi a peritissimis exerce- 
tur, reliquis minus idoneis magnam quandam pecuniae taxam 
lecture loco solventibus." P. 168. 

f Roper says one of the under sheriffs. The anonymous 
life published by Dr. Wordsworth/' Under Sheriff of London." 
Hoddesden says, " one of the under sheriffs of London; 
some say recorder ;" but Hoddesden's is so poor a compilation 
that it has no independent authority. Stapleton writes 
thus : " There are in London three public officers, a mayor, 
and two sheriffs ; but because for the most part the persons 
holding those offices are unskilful in the law, est unus perpe- 


London, which I think not. Yea, there was not 
at that time any cause of importance in any of 
the king's courts of this realm, but he was of 
counsel for one of the parties, still chusing the 
justest side, and therefore he continually went 
away victorious. By all which means he got 
yearly, as he told his son Roper, without any 
grudge of conscience, to the value of four hun- 
dred pounds, which was a large gain in those 
days, when lawyers sped not so well as now they 
do ; neither were they then so plentiful. But 
his fame exceeded all others, wherefore he was 
chosen twice agent for the Still-yard merchants*, 
which business he dispatched with singular 

King Henry the Seventh now reigning, was 
a prince of singular virtues, as wisdom and reli- 

tuus (ut in jure vocatur) syndicus civitatis, qui pro istis shyre- 
vis jus dicit, judicisque urbani officio fungitur." P. 169. 
Pitz states the matter thus : " electus est primum populi Lon- 
dinensis orator, deinde syndicus urbis." P. 718. 

* The merchants of the Steel-yard were foreign merchants, 
chiefly of Germany, who enjoyed certain privileges in London, 
by charters from our kings. They were the great importers 
of corn. See Stowe's " London," p. 234. The writer of the 
anonymous Life says, that he was twice sent abroad on the 
business of these merchants. Roper that he was engaged by 
the merchants of London to go abroad on their business. 


gion, if that covetousness, the root of all mischief, 
had not seized upon him towards his latter days, 
which caused him to lay upon his subjects many 
impositions, and to raise sore exactions, by the in- 
stigation of two caterpillars of the commonwealth, 
Empson and Dudley, who in the beginning of 
King Henry the Eighth's reign were rewarded 
according to their deserts for their wicked coun- 
sel, to teach other men by their deaths, how 
injustice and rapine is punished by God. This 
king, I say, had called together a parliament, 
wherein he demanded three-fifteenths for the 
marriage of his eldest daughter, the Lady Mar- 
garet's grace, who then should be, as she was 
indeed shortly after, bestowed upon the King of 
Scots. It chanced that Sir Thomas was then 
one of the burgesses, for many had now taken 
notice of his great sufficiency. When the con- 
sent of the lower house was demanded to these 
impositions, most of the rest, either holding their 
peace, or not daring to gainsay them, though 
they seemed unwilling, Sir Thomas, making a 
grave speech, pronounced such urgent argu- 
ments why these exactions were not to be granted, 
that hereupon all the king's demands were 
crossed, and his request denied; so that Mr. 
Tyler, one of the king's privy chamber, went 
presently from the house, and told his majesty 
that a beardless boy had disappointed him of all 


his expectations.* Whereupon the king con- 
ceived great indignation against him, and could 
no way be satisfied until he had in some sort 
revenged it. But forasmuch as he, having yet 
but little, could not lose much, he devised a 
causeless quarrel against Sir John More, his 
most innocent father, and clapped him up in the 
Tower of London, keeping him there prisoner 
until he had forced him, against all justice, to 
pay one hundred pounds, as a fine for a cause- 
less offence. Many also counselled Sir Thomas 
More to ask the king's mercy, that <his father 
might be released, amongst whom was Doctor 
Fox, then Bishop of Winchester, one of the 
king's privy council, who pretended great love 
towards him, purposing indeed to get the king 
thereby a better means to revenge his displea- 
sure. But when Sir Thomas had asked the 
bishop's chaplain, Doctor Whitford, a very holy 
and grave man, afterwards a father of Sion, he 
that translated the " Following of Christ" into 
English, what he were best to do, he requested 
him for the passion of God not to follow his 
lord's advice ; saying moreover, that the bishop 
would not stick to agree to the death of his own 

* This was probably in 1502, when the treaty for the mar- 
riage was settled. She was not delivered up to the King of 
Scot till August or September, 1503. 


father, if it was to serve the king's affection ; for 
which cause he returned no more to my Lord of 
Wi n chester, but determined to have gone over 
sea, thinking he could not live in England without 
great danger, standing now in the king's dis- 
pleasure, and therefore he studied the French 
tongue at home, sometime recreating his tired 
spirits on the viol ; where he also perfected him- 
self in most of the liberal sciences, as music, 
arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and grew to be 
a perfect historian ; his chief help in all his 
labours being his happy memory, of which he 
modestly speaketh thus : " I would I were as 
wise and as learned ' ut memoria non usque- 
quaque destituor/ as that my memory doth not 
altogether fail me." 

But King Henry dying shortly after, and his 
son, King Henry the Eighth, striving at the be- 
ginning of his reign to win the applause of his 
people, cast Empson and Dudley into prison, and 
attainted them of high treason, for giving per- 
nicious counsel to his father their prince, and 
when they were going to execution Sir Thomas 
asked Dudley, whether he had not done better 
than they ; to whom with a sorrowful heart he 
answered, " Oh, Mr. More, God was your good 
friend, that you did not ask the king's forgive- 
ness as many would have had you done : for if 
you had, perhaps you should have been in the 


like case with us now." So that to shun present 
dangers by offending God, or our country, is not 
always the safest way even for our bodily good, 
the contrary turning oftentimes to our great 
fame, glory and profit. 

Those great parts of nature and diligence 
which every one noted in Sir Thomas, coming 
to the young king's ear, who was at that time 
greedy to entertain all rare men into his service, 
he caused Cardinal Wolsey, then Lord Chan- 
cellor, to move him to come to the court: and 
albeit the cardinal travailed earnestly with him 
to effect it, alleging how dear his service must 
needs be to his majesty, who could not with his 
honour allow him less than he should lose 
thereby to recompense him fully, yet loath to 
change his estate, which was certain, made such 
means to the king by the cardinal, as that his 
majesty was at that time satisfied to forbear 

Yet did the king use him in divers embas- 
sages : sending him into France to challenge 
certain debts which the king of England de- 
manded to be due unto him, that had been there 
unjustly kept back ; in which charge he satisfied 
both the kings fully of his wise demeanour and 
sufficiency. After this he was also sent embas- 
sador into Flanders, to confirm a league betwixt 
England and Burgundy, which he happily finish- 


ing, the king offered him at his return a yearly 
pension, which Sir Thomas refused, as he writeth 
to Erasmus in these words : 

" When I returned from my embassage of 
Flanders, the king's majesty would have granted 
me a yearly pension ; which surely, if I should 
respect honour or profit, was not to be con- 
temned by me, yet have I as yet refused it, and 
I think I shall still refuse it, because either I 
should forsake my present means which I have 
in the city, which I esteem more than a better, 
or else I should keep it with some grudge of the 
citizens, between whom and his highness if there 
should happen any controversies (which may 
sometime chance) they may suspect me as not 
trusty and sincere unto them, because I am 
obliged to the king with an annual stipend." 

About this time he composed the famous 
book, his Utopia, in Latin, so much praised and 
extolled by all the learned men of the age, about 
the year of our Lord 1516, being six and thirty 
years of age. This was of all nations so much 
applauded that very shortly after it was trans- 
lated both into French, Italian, Dutch, and Eng- 
lish. The judgments of divers learned men 
concerning which work I think good to set 
down here in English, as Doctor Stapleton re- 
citeth them in his Three Thomases. And first 
Budseus, a singular man, sayeth thus of it in an 



epistle to Lupsetus, " We owe to Thomas More 
the discovery of Utopia, for he hath divulged to 
the world in this our age a pattern of a happy 
life and perfect rule of good behaviour. This 
age and our posterity shall have this history as 
a seminary of most wholesome doctrine and 
precepts, from whence they may transport and 
accommodate every one to their own cities and 
kingdoms, these excellent ordinances and de- 

John Paludanus to Peter Giles speaketh thus 
thereof, " You may see in Utopia, as in a 
looking-glass, whatsoever belongeth to a perfect 
common-wealth. England truly hath many ex- 
cellent learned men, for what may we conjecture 
of the rest, if More has performed so much ; first, 
being but a young man, and then distracted with 
many public and domestic businesses ; last of 
all, professing any thing rather than learning." 

Peter Giles also, to Jerome Buslidian, speak- 
eth thus, and giveth it this praise : " So many 
miracles meet here together, that I am in doubt 
which most to admire, his most happy memory, 
which could set down so many divers sayings 
verbatim, having but heard them once, and his 
wisdom for marking and setting down all the 
fountains from whence either the happiness or 
mischief of any common-wealth do arise : or 
else his elegant style, that hath comprised, with 


such pure Latin and such rigour of speech, so 
many and sundry matters, and especially he that 
is so much distracted with public and domestical 

Buslidian, a great counsellor of Charles the 
emperor, in a letter to Sir Thomas sayeth thus : 
" In the happy description of the Utopian 
common-wealth there is nothing missing which 
might shew most excellent learning together with 
most perspicuous and absolute knowledge of all 
human things : for you excel many in sundry 
sciences, and in them are so skilful that you af- 
firm every matter in writing as though you tried 
it by experience, and you write most eloquently 
whatsoever you affirm ; a marvellous and rare 
happiness, and the more rare by how much few 
can attain thereunto." And further in the said 
letter he affirmeth, that this Utopian common- 
wealth far exceedeth the Lacedemonian, Athe- 
nian, or even the Roman ; in that it is rather 
framed to provide for upright and able magis- 
trates than in decreeing laws and statutes ; by 
whose prototypon, that is the pattern of their 
honesty, the example of their manners and be- 
haviour, and the portraiture of their justice, the 
whole state and true government of every perfect 
common-wealth may be framed. 

Paulus Jovius in his book of the praises of 
learned men, speaketh thus : " More's fame will 


always last in his Utopia, for he therein hath 
described a kingdom very well governed with 
most wholesome laws, and much flourishing with 
rich peace, shewing how he loathed the corrupt 
manners of this wicked age, and that he might 
shew by a pleasant fiction the right path to a 
blessed and most happy life ! 

Finally, Hutten, Vives, Graphius, and Lasius 
affirm that Sir Thomas had an incomparable wit, 
greater than a man's, and " pene divinum." 

About this time he also wrote for his exer- 
cise the history of King Richard the Third, both 
in Latin and English, which is so well penned that 
if our Chronicles of England were half so well 
set out, they would entice all Englishmen to read 
them over often. 

These his works set out at that time when he 
was most employed in other men's affairs, shew 
how diligent and industrious he was ; for thus he 
writeth in his Utopia : " Whilst I daily either 
plead other men's causes, or hear them some- 
times as an arbitrator, otherwhiles as a Judge ; 
whilst this man I visit for friendship, another for 
business : whilst I busy myself abroad about 
other men's matters all the whole day, I leave no 
time for myself, that is for study, for when I come 
home I must discourse with my wife, chat with 
my children, and speak with my servants. And 
seeing it must needs be done, I number them 


amongst my affairs and needful they are, unless 
one will be a stranger in his own house, for we 
must endeavour to be affable and pleasant unto 
those whom either nature chance or choice hath 
made our companions : but with such measure it 
must be done that we do not mar them with af- 
fability, or make them of servants our masters by 
too much gentle entreaty and favour. Whilst 
these things are a-doing,a day a month a year pas- 
seth, when then can I find time to write : for I 
have not yet spoken of meat or sleep, which things 
only, bereave most men of half their lives. As 
for me, I get only that spare time which I steal 
from my meat or sleep, which because it is but 
small, I proceed slowly : yet it being somewhat, 
now at the length I have prevailed, and have sent 
unto thee, Peter, my Utopia." 

Besides all these, to show the more his excel- 
lent parts of ready utterance, pleasant conceits, 
and sharpness of wit, even to the admiration of 
all men, he read a lecture in St. Laurence's 
church at Lothbury, where Sir John More, his 
father lieth buried, out of St. Augustine's books 
De Civitate Dei, not so much discussing the points 
of divinity, as the precepts of moral philosophy 
and history, wherewith these books are replen- 
ished. And he did this with such an excellent 
grace, that whereas before all the flower of Eng- 


lish youths went to hear famous Grocinus, who 
was lately come out of Italy to teach Greek in 
the public university, under whom, as also that 
famous grammarian Thomas Linacre, Sir Thomas 
himself had profited greatly, of whom he had 
Aristotle's work interpreted into Greek, now all 
England almost left this lecture and nocked to 
hear Sir Thomas More. 



T fortuned shortly afterwards that a 
ship of the pope's arrived at South- 
ampton, which the king claimed as 
a forfeiture ; yet the pope's legate os 
wrought with the king, that being seized on, he 
obtained to have the matter pleaded by learned 
counsel : for the pope's side, as their principal 
man, was chosen Sir Thomas More ; and a day 
of hearing being appointed before the lord chan- 
cellor and other the chief judges in the Star- 
Chamber, Sir Thomas argued so learnedly and 
so forcibly in defence of the pope's part, that 
the aforesaid forfeiture was restored, and he by 
all the audience so highly commended for his 
admirable, upright demeanour, that for no 
entreaty would the king forbear any longer to 
use him. Whereupon he brought him perforce 
to the court and made him one of his privy 
council, as Sir Thomas testifieth himself, in a 
letter to that worthy prelate, John Fisher, bishop 
of Rochester : 

" I have come to the court extremely against 
my will, as every body knoweth, and as the king 


often twitteth me in sport for it. And hereto 
do I hang so unseemly as a man not using to 
ride doth sit unhandsomely in his saddle. But 
our prince, whose special and extraordinary fa- 
vour I cannot claim, is so affable and courteous 
unto all men, that every man who hath some 
little hope may find somewhat whereby he may 
imagine that he loveth him dearly, even as the 
citizens' wives of London do, who imagine that 
our Lady's picture near the Tower doth smile 
upon them as they pray before it. But I am 
not so happy that I can perceive such fortunate 
signs of love, and of a more abject spirit than 
I can persuade myself that I have it. Yet the 
king's majesty is so virtuous and learned, and 
so industrious in both, that by how much the 
more I see his highness increase in those kingly 
ornaments, by so much the less troublesome this 
courtier's life seemeth unto me." 

And indeed King Henry's court for the first 
twenty years, was a seat of many excellent wits ; 
a palace of rare virtues, according as Erasmus 
witnesseth thereof in an epistle to one Henry 
Gilforde,* a gentleman of an ancient family, 
thus : 

* This was Sir Henry Guilford, K. G. There is a good 
account of him in Wotton's Baronetage, vol. iv. p. 4. His 
brother Sir Edward was father to Jane Duchess of Northum- 


" The fragrant odour of the most honourable 
fame of the court of England, which spreadeth 
itself over all the world, it having a king singularly 
endowed with all princely excellencies, a queen 
most like unto him, and plenty of sincere, learned, 
grave, and wise personages, hath stirred up the 
prince of Berghes to put his son Anthony to no 
other school but that." 

Within a while after that the king had created 
him one of his high counsellors of state, per- 
ceiving every day more and more his fidelity, 
uprightness, dexterity, and wisdom, he dubbed 
him knight : and after Mr. Weston's death, 
he made him treasurer of the exchequer, a place 
of great trust, of which increase of honour 
Erasmus writeth thus Goclenius :* 

" When you shall write to More you shall 
congratulate him for his increase of dignity and 
good fortune. For being before only of his 
privy council, now of late by the free gift of his 
most gracious prince, neither desiring nor seek- 
ing it, he hath not only made him a knight but 
treasurer of the king's exchequer, an office in 
England both honourable and commodious for 
the purse." 

Yea, King Henry finding still sufficiency 

* " Cochleus" in the printed copies. Stapleton, from whom 
More derived it, has it Goclenius, which is right. 


more and more in Sir Thomas used him with 
particular affection for the space of twenty years 
together ; during a good part whereof the king's 
custom was upon holy days, when he had done 
his own devotions,, to send for Sir Thomas into 
his traverse ; and there, sometimes in matters of 
astronomy, geometry, and divinity, and such 
other faculties, to sit and confer with him : 
otherwhiles also, in the clear night, he would 
have him walk with him on the leads, there to 
discourse with him of the diversity of the courses, 
motions, and operations of the stars, as well 
fixed as the planets. And because he was of a 
very pleasant disposition it pleased his majesty 
and the queen, after the council had supped, at 
supper time commonly to call for him to hear his 
pleasant jests. But when Sir Thomas perceived 
his pleasant conceits so much to delight them 
that he could scarce once in a month get leave 
to go home to his wife and children, whom he 
had now placed at Chelsey, three miles from 
London,, by the water's side, and that he could 
not be two days absent from the court, but he 
must be sent for again, he much misliking this 
restraint of his liberty, began therefore to dis- 
semble his mirth, and so by little and little to 
disuse himself, that he from thence forth at such 
seasons was no more so ordinarily sent for. 

The great opinion which the city of London 


had of him, caused the king to send Sir Thomas 
as a special man to appease the apprentices 
which were risen up in mutiny against the 
strangers that dwelt then amongst them upon a 
May-day : and surely Sir Thomas had quieted 
them utterly and soon, had not an extraordinary 
chance hindred it in St. Martin's, as Stowe wit- 

The king also used, of a particular love, to 
come on a sudden to Chelsey, where Sir Thomas 
now lived, and leaning on his shoulder to talk 
with him of secret counsel in his garden, yea, and 
to dine with him upon no inviting ; for Sir Thomas 
used seldom to feast noblemen, but his poor 
neighbours often, whom he would visit often in 
their houses, and bestow upon them his large 
liberality, not groats but crowns of gold ; yea, 
more than according to their wants. He hired 
a house for many aged people in Chelsey, whom 
he daily relieved ; and it was my aunt 'Roper's 
charge to see them want nothing. And when 
he was a private lawyer he would take no fees 
of poor folks, widows, nor pupils.* 

In the fourteenth year of the reign of King 
Henry the eighth there was a parliament called, 

* The whole of this clause, from " For Sir Thomas," &c. 
is wanting in the printed copies, in this place, but is inserted 
afterwards in the eighth chapter. 


and thereof (which was a strange thing) Sir 
Thomas was chosen speaker for the lower house, 
being now one of the privy council, who being 
very loth to take this charge upon him, made a 
worthy oration to the king (not now extant), 
whereby he vehemently laboured to be dis- 
charged of the said place of the speakership, 
whereunto his highness would by no means give 
his consent. 

At the beginning of the parliament he made 
another oration, very wisely set down by my 
uncle Roper in his work of Sir Thomas More's 
Life, thus : " Since I perceive most redouted 
sovereign, that it accordeth not to your high 
pleasure to reform this election and cause it to 
be changed, but have by the mouth of the most 
reverend father in God the legate (who was then 
Cardinal Wolsey), your high chancellor, there- 
unto given your assent, and have of your benig- 
nity determined far above that I may bear, to 
enable me, and for this office to repute me fit, 
rather than that you would seem to impute to 
your commons -that .they had unmeetly chosen 
me ; I am therefore, and always shall be, ready 
obediently to conform myself to the accomplish- 
ment of your high command." And then he 
maketh two humble petitions ; the one concern- 
ing himself, the other the whole assembly : the 
first, that if he should chance to mistake his 


message, or for, lack of good utterance by mis- 
rehearsal to pervert their prudent instructions, 
that his majesty would then pardon his sim- 
plicity, and suffer him to repair unto them again 
for their more substantial advice. His other 
request was to the king's majesty, that it would 
please his inestimable goodness, to pardon freely, 
without doubt of his dreadful displeasure, what- 
soever it shall happen any man to say, inter- 
preting every man's words, how unseemly soever 
they be couched, to proceed of a good zeal 
towards the profit of the realm and the honour 
of his royal person. 

Cardinal Wolsey at this parliament found 
himself much grieved at the burgesses, that 
nothing could be either done or spoken in both 
the houses, but it was immediately blown abroad 
in every alehouse. It fortuned after, that when 
a great subsidy was demanded, and that the 
cardinal fearing it would not pass the lower 
house unless he were there present himself, 
before whose coming it was long debated whether 
they should admit him with a few of the lords, 
as the most opinion of the house was, or that 
they should receive him with his whole train. 
" Masters," quoth Sir Thomas, " for as much as 
my lord cardinal lately, ye wot well, laid to our 
charge the lightness of our tongues for things 
uttered out of this house, it should not in my 


mind be amiss to receive him with all his pomp, 
with his maces, his pillars, his poleaxes, his 
cross, his hat, and the great seal, to the intent 
that if he find the like fault with us, we may lay 
the blame on those which his grace bringeth 
with him." Upon which words the house wholly 
agreed, and so he was received accordingly. 
There the cardinal with a solemn speech by 
many reasons proved, how necessary it was that 
the demand there moved should be granted. 
But he, seeing the company silent contrary to his 
expectation, shewing no towardliness of inclina- 
tion thereunto, demanded of them some reason- 
able answer. But when every one still held their 
peace, he spake in particular to Mr. Murrey,* 
who making no answer neither, he asked others 
also, but they all had determined to answer him 
by their speaker ; who spake therefore reverently 
on his knees, excusing the silence of the house, 
abashed, as he said at the sight of so noble a 
personage, who was able to amaze the wisest and 
best learned in a realm. But by many probable 
arguments he proved this his manner of coming 
to be neither expedient, nor agreeable to the 
ancient liberties of that house. And for himself, 
in conclusion, he shewed, that except all they 

* The name is Murrey, both in the MS. and the printed 
copies ; but Roper, from whom More had the fact, calls the 
person Marney, which is right, 


could put their sundry wits into his head, that 
he alone in so weighty a matter was unmeet to 
make his grace a sufficient answer. Whereupon 
the cardinal, displeased with Sir Thomas, that 
he had not in that parliament satisfied his expec- 
tation, suddenly rose in a rage and departed. 
And afterwards in the gallery of Whitehall he 
uttered unto him his grief: saying, " I would to 
God you had been at Rome, Mr. More, when I 
made you speaker." " Your grace not offended, 
so would I too, my lord, for then I should have 
seen the place I long have desired to visit." And 
when the cardinal walked without any more 
speech, he hegan to talk to him of that fair gal- 
lery of his, saying, " This gallery of yours,my lord, 
pleaseth me much better than your other at 
Hampton Court;" with which digression he wisely 
broke off the cardinal's displeasant talk, that his 
grace at that present wist not more what to say 
unto him. But for a revenge of his displeasure 
he counselled the king to send him his embassa- 
dor leiger into Spain, commending to his highness 
his learning, wisdom, and fitness for that voyage, 
the difficulty of many matters considered between 
the Emperor Charles the Fifth and our realm, so 
as none was so well able to serve his majesty 
therein ; which the king broke to Sir Thomas. 
But when Sir Thomas had declared to the king- 
how unmeet that journey was for him, the nature 


of Spain disagreeing with his constitution, that 
he was unlike to do his sovereign acceptable 
service there, being that it was probable that he 
should send him to his grave : yet for all that, he 
shewed himself ready according as duty bound 
him, were it with the loss of his life, to fulfil his 
majesty's pleasure in that behalf. The king most 
graciously replieth thereunto, " It is not our 
meaning, Mr. More, to do you any hurt, but to 
do you good we would be glad; we will therefore 
employ your service otherwise ;" and so would 
not permit him to go that long journey. For the 
king in his wisdom perceived that the cardinal 
began to grow jealous of Sir Thomas's greatness, 
fearing that which after happened, that he would 
outstrip him in the king's gracious favour, who 
still heaped more honour upon Sir Thomas. 
And although he was never the man that asked 
the king any request for himself, yet upon the 
death of Sir Richard Wingfield, who had been 
chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, that dig- 
nity was bestowed upon Sir Thomas More ;* of 
which his honour Erasmus writing to Goclineus 
biddeth him to send congratulatory letters for 
his late honour, saying, that he came unto it 
" nee ambiens nee expetens, ultroneo favore 
principis humanissimi :" that is, neither am- 

* Sir Richard Wingfield was sent embassador to Spain 
with the Bishop of London, and died at Toledo, July 22, 1525. 


bitiously seeking it, nor once asking it, but by 
the mere favour of a most gracious prince. 

King Henry took such extraordinary love in 
Sir Thomas's company, that he would sometimes 
on a sudden come over to his house at Chelsey 
and be merry with him ; whither on a time un- 
looked for he came and dined with him, and after 
dinner walked with him for the space of an hour, 
holding his arm about his neck most lovingly, 
in the garden. And when his majesty was gone 
my uncle Roper rejoiced, and told his father how 
happy he was that the king had shewed him 
such extraordinary signs of love as he had never 
seen him do to any other except the cardinal, 
whom he saw with the king walk once arm in 
arm. Whereto Sir Thomas answering said, 
" I thank our Lord God, I find his grace my very 
good lord indeed, and I believe he doth as singu- 
larly favour me as any other subject within this 
realm ; howbeit, son Roper, I may tell thee, I 
have no cause to be proud thereof, for if my 
head would win him a castle in France (for then 
there was war between France and us) it should 
not fail to go off." By which words he evidently 
shewed how little he joyed either in the king's 
favour or his worldly honour ; piercing with his 
singular eye of judgment into King Henry's 
nature, that what show of friendship soever he 
made to any, yet he loved none but to serve his 



own turn, and no longer was any in his favour 
than he applied himself to his humours. Yet 
could he not chuse but love Sir Thomas for his 
singular parts, his profound judgment, his plea- 
sant wit and sincere integrity. For which cause, 
as the rare and admirable Queen Catherine, King 
Henry's first wife, would often say, that the king 
her husband had but one sound counsellor in his 
kingdom, meaning Sir Thomas More ; for the 
rest she said, that either they spake as the king 
would have them, or had not such matter of 
judgment in them : and as for Cardinal Wolsey, 
who was then the greatest subject in the realm, 
for his own benefit or end he cared not what 
counsel he gave to the king. He was of base 
parentage, and as they say, a butcher's son of 
Ipswich ; yet had he crept up into favour partly 
by his learning, partly by his nimble wit and 
lovely carriage, whereby he could insinuate him- 
self into great men's favours. He had also a 
ready tongue and a bold countenance, and had 
gotten much spiritual living together, bestowing 
it upon vanities, as great and sumptuous build- 
ings, costly banquets, and great magnificence : 
for he was vain glorious above all measure, as 
may be seen by Sir Thomas's book of Comfort in 
Tribulation, where he meaneth of him what is 
spoken of a great prelate in Germany, who when 
he had made a speech or oration before a great 


audience, would bluntly ask them that sat at 
his table with him, how they all liked it ; then 
he that should bring forth a mean commendation 
of it was utterly shamed : and so telleth of a 
spiritual man., when he should have commended 
it least of all, was put to such a non plus that 
he had nothing to say, but crying, " Oh," and 
fetching a deep sigh, he cast his eyes into the 
welkin and wept. Another time, the cardinal 
had drawn a draft of certain conditions of peace 
between England and France, and he asked Sir 
Thomas his counsel therein, beseeching him 
earnestly that he would tell him if there were 
any thing therein to be misliked ; and he spake 
this so heartily, saith Sir Thomas, that he be- 
lieved verily that he was willing to hear it 
indeed. But when Sir Thomas had dealt really 
therein, and showed wherein that draft might 
have been amended, he suddenly rose in a rage, 
saying, " By the mass, thou art the veriest fool 
of all the council :" at which Sir Thomas 
smiling said, " God be thanked the king our 
master hath but one fool in his council." But 
we shall have occasion hereafter to speak more 
of this cardinal. 



IR Thomas for all his honour and 
favour with his prince, was not 
puffed up with pride,, disdain or ar- 
rogancy, but was of such a mild be- 
haviour and excellent temper, that he could never 
be moved to any passion or anger, as mine uncle 
Roper witnesseth, who affirmeth that in sixteen 
years' space and more that he dwelt in his house 
and was conversant with him always, he could 
never perceive him so much as once in a fume ; 
yea, Margaret Giggs, who was brought up as a 
child among Sir Thomas's children, and used by 
him as one of them, and afterwards married to 
Doctor Clement, a singular learned woman, 
would say, that sometimes she would commit a 
fault for the nonce, to hear Sir Thomas chide 
her, he did it with such gravity, such moderation, 
such love, and compassion. His meekness and 
humility were also perceived in this, that if it 
had fortuned any learned man to come to him, 


as there did many daily either from Oxford, 
Cambridge or elsewhere, some for desire of his 
acquaintance, (as he had intercourse of letters 
with all the men of fame in all Christendom) ; 
some again for the report of his learning and 
singular wisdom ; some for suits of the univer- 
sities : if any of them, I say, had entered into 
argument, wherein few of them were able to 
dispute long with him, he would urge very 
forcibly, and if it fortuned that they entered 
together so far to dispute that he perceived they 
could not without some inconveniency hold out 
much further against his arguments, then lest 
he should discourage them, as he sought not his 
own glory, he would seem confuted, that the 
student should not be discomfited, ever shewing 
himself more desirous to learn than to teach ; 
and so by some witty devise he would courte- 
ously break out into some other matter. 

Such was also his readiness of wit, that going 
ever in progress with the king either to Oxford 
or Cambridge, when they were received with 
very eloquent orations, he was always the man 
appointed by his majesty ex tempore to make 
answer unto them, as he that was promptest and 
most ready therein. Yea, when the king went into 
France to meet the French king, Sir Thomas More 
made a speech of their congratulation; which 
he also did, when Charles the Fifth landed in 


England to see Queen Catherine, his aunt. And 
whensoever he had occasion, either in England 
or beyond the sea, to visit any university, he 
would not only be present at their readings and 
disputations, but would also learnedly dispute 
there amongst them himself, to the great admi- 
ration of all the auditory, for his skill in all 
sciences. But when at Bruges, in Flanders, an 
arrogant fellow had set up a Thesis, that he 
would answer whatsoever question could be 
propounded unto him, in any art whatsoever, 
Sir Thomas made this question to be put up, for 
him to answer thereto, " An Averia capta in 
Withernamia sunt irreplegibilia ;" adding, that 
there was one of the English ambassador's reti- 
nue would dispute with him thereof. This 
Thraso, or braggadocio, not so much as under- 
standing those terms of our common law, knew 
not what to answer to it ; and so he was made 
a laughing stock to the whole city for his pre- 
sumptuous bragging. 

Now, as he was ungrateful to vain proud 
men, so was he an entire and special good friend 
to all the learned men in Christendom; and 
first he affected especially that famous man, 
Cuthbert Tunstall, lately Bishop of London, and 
then of Durham ; of whom Sir Thomas speaketh 
in his epitaph, made by himself whilst he was in 
good health and state, thus, " Than whom the 


whole world hath not a man more learned, wise, or 
better." He speaketh also of him in his Utopia, 
thus: " The king sent me ambassador into 
Flanders, as a colleague to that excellent person, 
Cuthbert Tunstall, whom lately he hath chosen 
(to the congratulation of all men) his master of 
the rolls, of whose singular praises I will not 
speak, not that I fear I should be suspected, 
because he is so dear a friend unto me, but for 
that his virtues and learning are greater than I 
can express, and also more known than that I 
should need to go about to declare them ; ex- 
cept I would seem to set a torch to lighten the 
sun. In this embassage many things delighted 
me much ; first the long and never interrupted 
familiarity which I had with Tunstall, than 
whom as there is none more learned, so also no 
man more grave in his life and manners, no man 
more pleasant in his manner of carriage and 
conversation." He wrote unto him divers letters, 
which may testify what entire friendship there 
was between these two excellent men ; as this : 
'' Although every letter which I receive from 
you, most worthy friend, is very grateful unto 
me, yet that which you wrote last was most wel- 
come, for that besides the other commendations, 
which the rest of your letters deserve, in respect 
of their eloquence, and the friendship they profess 
towards me, these last of yours yield a peculiar 


grace,, for that they contain your peculiar testi- 
mony (I would it were as true as it is favour- 
able) of my Commonwealth. I requested my 
friend Erasmus,, that he would explain to you 
the matter thereof in familiar talk ; yet I 
charged him not to press you to read it, not 
because I would not have you to read it, for that 
is my chief desire, but remembering your discreet 
purpose, not to take in hand the reading of any 
new work, until you had fully satisfied yourself 
with the books of ancient authors, which if you 
measure by the profit you have taken by them, 
surely you have already accomplished your task ; 
but if by affection, then you will never bring 
your said purpose to a perfect end. Wherefore 
I was afraid that seeing the excellent works of 
other men could not allure you to their reading, 
you would never be brought to condescend wil- 
lingly to the reading of my trifles, and surely 
you would never have done it, but that your 
love towards me drove you more thereto than 
the worth of the thing itself. Therefore I yield 
you exceeding thanks for reading so diligently 
over my Utopia ; I mean, because you have for 
my sake bestowed so much labour ; and no less 
thanks truly do I give you for that my work 
hath pleased you; for no less do I attribute this 
to your love, because I see you rather have testi- 
fied what your love towards me did suggest, 


than the authority of a censor. Howsoever the 
matter is, I cannot express how much I joy that 
you have cast your whole account in liking my 
doings ; for I almost persuade myself all those 
things to be true which you speak thereof, know- 
ing you to be most far from all dissembling, and 
myself more mean than that you should need to 
flatter me, and more dear to you than that I 
should expect a mock from you. Wherefore, 
whether that you have seen the truth unfeign- 
edly, I rejoice heartily in your judgment ; or 
whether your affection to me hath blinded your 
judgment, I am for all that no less delighted in 
your love ; and truly vehement and extraor- 
dinary great must that love be, which could 
bereave Tunstall of his judgment." 

And in another letter he saith, " You deal 
very courteously with me, in that you give me 
in your letter such hearty thanks, because I 
have been careful to defend the causes of your 
friends, amplifying the small good turn I have 
done you therein, by your great bounty; but 
you deal somewhat too fearfully in regard of the 
love which is between us, if you imagine that 
you are indebted unto me for any thing I have 
done, and do not rather challenge it of right to 
be due unto you, &c. The amber which you 
sent me, being a precious sepulchre of flies, was 
for many respects most welcome unto me, for 


the matter thereof may be compared in colour 
and brightness to any precious stone, and the 
form is more excellent, because it repre- 
senteth the figure of a heart, as it were the 
hieroglyphic of our love ; which I interpret your 
meaning is, that between us it will never fly 
away, and yet be always without corruption ; 
because I see the fly (which hath wings like 
Cupid, the son of Venus, and is as fickle as he,) 
so shut up here and enclosed in this gluey matter 
of amber, as it cannot fly away, and so embalmed 
and preserved therewith as it cannot perish. I am 
not so much as once troubled that I cannot send 
you the like gift again ; for I know you do not ex- 
pect any interchange of tokens ; and besides, I am 
willing still to be in your debt ; yet this troubleth 
me somewhat, that my estate and condition is 
so mean that I am never able to shew myself 
worthy of all and singular your friendship. 
Wherefore, though I cannot give testimony my- 
self herein before other men, yet must be satis- 
fied with mine own inward testimony of mind, 
and your gentle acceptance." 

He dedicated one of his books unto him, 
saying in this wise : " When I considered to 
which of all my friends I should dedicate these 
my collections out of many authors, I thought 
you most fit for the same, in respect of the fami- 
liar conversation, which of long time hath been 


between us, as also in respect of the sincerity of 
your mind, because you would be always ready 
to take thankfully whatsoever in this work 
should seem grateful unto you ; and whatso- 
ever should be barren therein, you would make 
a courteous construction thereof; whatsoever 
might be unpleasing, you would be willing to 
pardon.* I would to God I had as much wit and 
learning, as I am not altogether destitute of 

As for Bishop Tunstall he was a learned 
man, and wrote a singular book of the real pre- 
sence. And although, during King Henry's 
reign, he went with the sway of the time (for 
who almost did otherwise ?) to the great grief of 
Sir Thomas More ; yet living to the time of 
Queen Elizabeth, whose godfather he was, . . in 
his old age, seeing her take strange courses against 
the church, he came from Durham, and stoutly 
admonished her not to change religion, which if 

* It is observed by the editor of the edition of this Life, 
published in 1726, that this is not a quotation from More to 
Tunstall, but from Tunstall to More. It is from the dedica- 
tion of Tunstall's work, " De Arte Supputandi," which was 
printed at Paris in 1529. More had it from Stapleton, and 
appears to have misunderstood his author's meaning. The 
sentence which follows, " I would to God," &c. is not Tun- 
stall's, but M ore's; and occurs in the Epistle to Peter Giles, 
prefixed to the Utopia. 


she presumed to do, he threatened her to lose 
God's blessing and his. She, nothing pleased with 
his threats, made him be cast into prison, as most 
of the bishops were, where he made a glorious 
end of a confessor, and satisfied for his former 
crime of schism contracted in the time of King 
Henry's reign. 

Sir Thomas More's friendship with the glo- 
rious Bishop of Rochester was neither short nor 
small, but had long continued, and ended not 
[Ibut^ with their famous martyrdoms. See how 
good Bishop Fisher writeth unto him : " Let, I 
pray you, our Cambridge men have some hope in 
you to be favoured by the king's majesty, that 
our scholars may be stirred up to learning by 
the countenance of so worthy a prince. We 
have few friends in the court, which can or will 
commend our causes to his royal majesty, and 
amongst all we account you the chief, who have 
always favoured us greatly, even when you were 
in a meaner place ; and now also shew what 
you can do, being raised to the honour of 
knighthood, and in such great favour with our 
prince, of which we greatly rejoice, and also do 
congratulate your happiness. Give furtherance 
to this youth, who is both a good scholar in 
divinity, and also a sufficient preacher to the 
people. For he hath hope in your favour, that 
you can procure him great furtherance, and that 


my commendations will help him to your 

To this Sir Thomas More answereth thus : 
" This priest,, Reverend Father, whom you 
write to be in possibility of a bishoprick, if he 
might have some worthy suitor to speak for 
him to the king, I imagine that I have so pre- 
vailed, that his majesty will be no hindrance 
thereto, &c. If I have any favour with the king, 
which truly is but little, but whatsoever I have 
I will employ all I can to the service of your 
fatherhood and your scholars, to whom I yield 
perpetual thanks for their dear affections 
towards me, often testified by their loving let- 
ters, and my house shall be open to them as 
though it were their own. Farewell, worthy 
and most courteous prelate, and see you love me 
as you have done." 

His love and friendship with young Poole, 
afterwards cardinal, may be seen by their letters. 
He maketh mention of him with great praise, in 
a letter he wrote to his well-beloved daughter, 
Margaret Roper, in this wise : " I cannot ex- 
press in writing, nor scarcely can conceive it by 
thought, how grateful to me your most eloquent 
letters, dear daughter Margaret, are. Whilst I 
was reading them, there happened to be with 
me Reginald Poole, that most noble youth, not 
so noble by birth as he is singularly learned, 


and excellently endued with all kind of virtue. 
To him your letter seemed as a miracle ; yea, 
before he understood how near you were beset 
with the shortness of time, and the molestation 
of your weak infirmity, having, notwithstanding, 
sent me so long a letter, I could scarce make 
him believe but that you had some help from 
your master, until I told him seriously that you 
had not only never a master in your house, but 
also never another man that needed not your 
help rather in writing any thing than you needed 
his." And in another to Doctor Clement, a 
most famous physician, and one that was brought 
up in Sir Thomas's own house, he saith thus : 
" I thank you, my dear Clement, for that I find 
you so careful of my health, and my children's, 
so that you prescribe, in your absence, what 
meats are to be avoided by us. And you, my 
friend Poole, I render double thanks, both be- 
cause you have vouchsafed to send us in writing 
the counsel of so great a physician ; and besides 
have procured the same for us from your 
mother, a most excellent and noble matron, and 
worthy of so great a son ; so as you do not seem 
to be more liberal of your counsel than in be- 
stowing upon us the thing itself which you coun- 
sel us unto ; wherefore I love and praise you, 
both for your bounty and fidelity." 

And of Sir Thomas More's friendship, Car- 


dinal Poole boasteth much after his martyrdom, 
in his excellent book, " De imitate Ecclesiae," 
saying, " If you think that I have given scope to 
my sorrow, because they were my best beloved 
friends that were put to death," meaning Sir 
Thomas More and Bishop Fisher, " I do both 
acknowledge and profess it to be true, most wil- 
lingly, that they were both dear unto me above 
all others. For how can I dissemble this, seeing 
that I do rejoice more of their love towards me, 
than if I should boast that I had gotten the 
dearest familiarity with all the princes of Chris- 

His friendship also with Doctor Lee, after- 
wards the worthy Archbishop of York, was not 
small nor feigned, although he had written an 
excellent book against Erasmus's " Annotations 
upon the New Testament," Erasmus being then 
Sir Thomas's entire friend, and, as it were, the 
one half of his own heart ; for Sir Thomas 
writeth thus unto him : " Good Lee, that you 
request of me not to suffer my love to be dimi- 
nished towards you ; trust me, good Lee, it shall 
not ; though of myself I incline rather to that 
part that is oppugned. And as I could wish 
that this city were freed from your siege, so will 
I always love you, and be glad that you do so 
much esteem of my love." He speaketh also of 


Lupset,* a singular learned man of that time,, 
in an epistle to Erasmus. " Our friend, Lupset, 
readeth with great applause, in both tongues, 
at Oxford, having a great auditory ; for he 
succeedeth my John Clement in that charge." 
What familiarity there was betwixt him and 
Doctor Colet, Grocine, Linacre, and Lillie, all 
singular men, we have spoken of heretofore. 
William Mountjoy, a man of great learning/)* and 
William Latimer, not Hugh, the heretic, that was 
burned,^ but another most famous for virtue and 

* Thomas Lupset was born in that part of London in which 
Sir Thomas More resided. He was educated in Dean Colet's 
school, under Liilie, and became an eminent scholar. He 
died at the age of thirty-six. 

f By William Mountjoy is meant William Blount Lord 
Mountjoy, one of the nobility of that age, who devoted himself 
to literature. There is a poem, in which he is celebrated 
among the Encomia illustrium virorum of Leland. His ac- 
quaintance with Erasmus is there noticed, and in the epistles 
of that great man his name often appears. Pitz has a brief 
notice of him as William Mountjoy, p. 857, and, like our 
author, does not appear to have perceived that Blount was his 
name, and Mountjoy his title of honour. 

I In this unfeeling manner can the hand write, when the 
heart is hardened by religious bigotry. Yet Hugh lives, while 
William is almost forgotten. He was, however, one of the 
lights of his age, and one of the restorers of Greek learning. 
He was the tutor of Pole, and the friend of Erasmus, who says 
of him that he was, Vere Theologus integritate vitae conspicuus. 
He died in 1545. 


good letters, were his very great acquaintance ; 
as also John Croke,* that read Greek first at 
Lipsia in Germany, and was after King Henry's 
Greek master, to whom he writeth thus : 
" Whatsoever he was, my Croke, that hath sig- 
nified unto you that my love is lessened, because 
you have omitted to write unto me this great 
while, either he is deceived, or else he seeketh 
cunningly to deceive you ; and although I take 
great comfort in reading your letters, yet am I 
not so proud that I should challenge so much 
interest in you, as though you ought of duty to 
salute me every day in that manner, nor so way- 
ward nor full of complaints to be offended with 
you for neglecting a little this your custom of 
writing. For I were unjust if I should exact 
from other men letters, whereas I know myself 
to be a great sluggard in that kind. Wherefore 
be secure as concerning this ; for never hath 
my love waxed so cold towards you, that it need 
still to be kindled and heated with the continual 
blowing of missive epistles ; yet shall you do me 
a great pleasure if you write unto me as often 
as you have leisure, but I will never persuade 
you to spend that time in saluting your friends 

* For John Croke we should read Richard Croke, another 
student in Greek literature , raised from an inferior condition by 
Grocine. He is the person satirized by Leland, under the 
name of Corvus. 



which you have allotted for your own study, or 
the profiting of your scholars. As touching the 
other part of your excuse, I utterly refuse it ; 
for there is no cause why you should fear my 
nose as the trunk of an elephant, seeing that 
your letters may without fear approach in the 
sight of any man ; neither am I so long snouted 
that I would have any man fear my censuring. 
As for the place which you require that I should 
procure you, both Mr. Pace and I, who love 
you dearly, have put the king in mind thereof." 
But now as concerning the familiarity he had 
with the most famous men of other nations, it 
may be likewise seen by his letters to them ; as 
to that famous John Cochlee, who was Luther's 
scourge, he writeth thus: " It cannot be ex- 
pressed, most worthy sir, how much I hold myself 
indebted unto you, for certifying me so often of 
those occurrences, which happen in your country. 
For Germany now daily bringeth forth more 
monsters, yea prodigious things, than Afric was 
wont to do. For what can be more monstrous 
than the Anabaptists ; yet how have those kind 
of plagues, risen forth and spread for many years 
together. I for my part seeing these sects daily 
to grow worse and worse, do expect shortly to 
hear, that there will arise some who will not 
stick to preach, that Christ himself is to be 
denied; neither can there arise so absurd a 


knave, but he shall have favourers ; the madness 
of the people is so great." In which letter he 
foretelleth of David George, the Hollander, who 
called himself Christ, and had divers followers 
at Basil. So was there in England the like des- 
perate fellow called Hackett, whose disciples 
were Arden* and Coppinger. At another time he 
writeth thus unto the same man : " I would 
have you persuade yourself, dear Cochlie, that I 
have not received any letter from any of my 
friends these many years, more grateful than 
your last were to me ; and that for two causes 
especially ; the first, for that I perceive in them 
your singular love unto me, which though I have 
sufficiently found heretofore, yet do these shew 
it most plentifully, and I account it as a great 
happiness : for to let pass your benefits done me* 
who would not highly esteem the friendship and 
favour of such a friend ? Secondly because in 
these letters you certify me of the news of 
many actions of princes," &c. 

Afterwards he had also intire familiarity with 
Budaeus, which was often renewed by letters, 
and once by personal meeting in France, when 
the kings of England and France had a parley 

* For Arden read Arthington. For an account of Racket's 
strange opinions and conduct see Camden, Annales, A.D. 1591. 
He was executed. A milder government would have dis- 
posed of him differently. 


together. For Budaeus was in great favour with 
his king, Francis, yea, one of his privy council, 
as Sir Thomas was to King Henry ; all which 
may be perceived by his letter to Budaeus in this 
manner : " I know not, my good Budaeus, 
whether it were good for us to possess any thing 
that were dear unto us, except we might still 
keep it. For I have imagined that I should be 
a happy man, if I might but once see Budaeus, 
whose beautiful picture the reading of his works 
had represented unto me. And when God had 
granted me my wish, it seemed to me that I was 
more happy than happiness itself; yet after that 
our business were so urgent, that I could not 
fulfil my earnest desire to enjoy your sweet con- 
versation often, and that our familiarity scarce 
begun was broken off within a while, the neces- 
sary affairs of our princes calling us from it, so 
as it is now hard to say, whether we shall ever 
again see one another, each of us being enforced 
to wait upon our own prince ; by how much the 
more joyful our meeting was, by so much the 
more was my sorrow in the parting ; which you 
may lessen somewhat, if that you would please 
to make me often present by your letters : yet 
dare I not crave them of you : but my desire to 
have them is great." 

Another friend he had, called Martin Dorpe, 
a famous reader in Louvaine, and a singular good 


man, whom by letters fraught with sound argu- 
ments he brought to the love of the Greek 
tongue, being altogether before averted there- 
from : thus he speaketh of him in a letter to 
Erasmus ; " I cannot let Martin Dorpius pass 
unsaluted, whom I respect highly for his excel- 
lent learning, and for many other respects ; but 
for this not a little, because he gave you occasion 
to write your Apology to Brictius' Moria." 

He mentioneth also John Lascarus as a dear 
friend of his, as also Philip Beroalde, in a letter 
of his to Budseus, in this manner : " Commend 
me heartily to Lascarus that excellent and most 
learned man ; for I imagine that you would of 
yourself remember me to Beroaldus, though I 
should not put you in mind thereof; for you 
know him to be so dear unto me as such a one 
ought to be, than whom I have scarcely found a 
more learned man, or a more pleasant friend." 

Jerome Buslidian, who built the college 
called Trilingue in Louvaine, we have mentioned 
before, when we spake of his learned Utopia, of 
whom thus he speaketh in a certain letter of his 
to Erasmus : " Amongst other things which de- 
lighted me much in my Embassage, this is none 
of the least, that I got acquaintance with Bus- 
lidian, who entertained me most courteously 
according to his great wealth and exceeding 
good nature, where he shewed me his house built 


most artificially, and enriched with costly house- 
hold stuff, replenished with a number of monu- 
ments of antiquity, wherein you -know I take 
great delight, finally such an exquisite library, 
yea his heart and breast, more stored than any 
library ; so that it astonished me greatly." 

And presently after, in the same letter, he 
speaketh of Peter Giles as followeth : " But in 
all my travels, nothing happened more to my 
wish than the acquaintance and conversation of 
Peter Giles of Antwerp, a man so learned, so 
merry, so modest and so friendly, that let me be 
baked if I would not purchase this one man's 
familiarity with the loss of a good part of my 
estate." And in his Utopia he speaketh thus of 
him : " Whilst I live here in Antwerp, I am 
visited often, amongst the rest, by Peter Giles, 
than whom none is more grateful unto me : he is 
a native of Antwerp, and a man of good reputa- 
tion amongst his countrymen, and worthy of the 
best. For he is such a young man that I know 
not whether he is more learned, or better quali- 
fied with good conditions, for he is a most virtu- 
ous man and a great scholar, besides of courteous 
behaviour towards all men, of such a sincere 
carriage, love and affection towards his friend, 
that you can scarce find such another youth to 
set by him, that may be compared unto him ; he 
is of rare modesty, all flattery is far from him ; 


plainness with wisdom are seated in him together; 
moreover so pleasant in talk and so merry with- 
out any offence, that he greatly lesseneth by his 
pleasant discourse the desire I have to see my 
country,, my house, my wife, my children, of 
whose company I am of myself too anxious, 
and whom to enjoy I am too desirous. Of 
Beatus Renanus a very learned man, he writeth 
in an epistle to Erasmus, thus : " I love Renanus 
marvellously and am much in his debt for his 
good preface ; whom I would have thanked a 
good while ago, but that I have been troubled 
with such a gout of the hand, that is to say, idle- 
ness, that by no means I could overcome it." 

Cranvilde also, an excellent learned man and 
one of the Emperor Charles's privy council, was 
brought to Sir Thomas More's friendship by 
Erasmus ; for which both of them thanked 
Erasmus exceedingly as appeareth first by Cran- 
vilde's letter to him, which is thus : " I cannot 
but thank you greatly with these my (though 
rude) letters, most learned in all sciences, for 
your singular benefit lately bestowed upon me 
which I shall always bear in remembrance, and 
which I esteem so much as that I would not lose 
it for Crcesus' wealth. You will ask me what 
benefit that was ? truly this, that you have 
brought me to the acquaintance and sweet con- 
versation of your friend More, but now I will 


call him mine, whom after your departure I 
often frequented, because he often sent for me 
unto him ; whose bountiful entertainment at his 
table I esteem not so much as his learning, his 
courtesy, and his liberality. Wherefore I account 
myself deeply indebted unto you, and desire God 
that I may be able to demonstrate unto you a 
grateful signification of this good turn done me. 
In his absence he sent my wife a ring of gold, 
the posy whereof in English was : ' All things 
are measured by good-will.' He gave me also, 
certain old pieces of silver and gold coin ; in 
one whereof was graven Tiberius' picture, in 
another Augustus' , which I am willing to tell 
you, because I am somewhat to thank you for 
all." Whom Erasmus answered thus : " This is 
that sure, which is vulgarly spoken : I have by 
the means of one 'daughter gotten two sons-in- 
law : you thank me because by my means you 
have gotten so special a friend, as More is ; and 
he on the other side thanketh me also, for that 
I have procured his knowledge of Cranvilde. I 
knew well enough that because your wits and 
manners were alike, there would easily arise a 
dear friendship betwixt you ; if so were that you 
did but know each other ; but as the having of 
such friends is precious, so is the true keeping of 
them as rare." Hear how Sir Thomas writeth 
to Cranvilde : " I both perceive and acknow- 


ledge how much I am in your debt, my dear 
Cranvilde, because you never cease to do that 
which is most grateful unto me, in that you cer- 
tify me still of your affairs and friends. For 
what can be either more acceptable to Thomas 
More in his adversity, or more pleasing unto 
him in his prosperity, than to receive letters 
from Cranvilde, except one could bring me to 
the speech of him, a most learned man of all 
others. But as often as I read your writings, I 
am enamoured therewith, as if I were convers- 
ing with you in presence. Wherefore nothing 
troubleth me more, than that your letters are no 
longer; yet have I found a means to remedy 
that, because I read them over again and again, 
and I do it leisurely that my sudden reading 
them may not bereave me of my pleasure. But 
so much for this. That which you write con- 
cerning our friend Vives, who hath made a dis- 
course of wicked women, I agree so well with 
your opinion, that I think one cannot live with- 
out inconveniencies with the very best woman. 
For if any man be married, he shall not be 
without care ; and in my conceit Metellus 
Numidicus spoke truly of wives ; which I would 
speak the rather, if many of them through our 
own faults were not made the worse. But Vives 
hath gotten so good a wife, that he may not 
shun only, as much as possible any man, all the 


troubles of marriage, but also thereby he may 
receive great contentment ; yet now men's minds 
are so busied with public garb oils, whilst the 
fury of war doth so rage every where, that no 
man is at leisure to think of his private cares : 
wherefore if any household troubles have here- 
tofore oppressed any, they are now all obscured 
by reason of common mischief. But this suf- 
ficeth for this matter. I return to yourself, 
whose courtesies and friendship towards me as 
often as I think of (which is very often) it 
shaketh from me all sorrow. I thank you for 
the book you sent me, and I wish much joy with 
your new child, not for your own sake only, but 
for the common-wealth's, whose great benefit it 
is, that such a parent should increase it with 
plenty of children. For from you none but 
excellent children can be born. Farewell, and 
commend me carefully and heartily to your wife, 
to whom I pray God send happy health and 
strength ; my wife and children also wish you 
health, to whom by my report you are as well 
known and as dear as to myself. Again fare- 
well. London, 10 Aug. 1524." Another letter 
he wrote unto him in this sort : " I am ashamed, 
so God help me, my dear Cranvilde, of this your 
great courtesy towards me, that you do salute 
me with your letters so often, so lovingly, and so 
carefully, when as I so seldom do salute you 


again, especially seeing you may pretend yea 
alledge as many troubles of businesses as I can : 
but such is the sincerity of your affection and 
such the constancy thereof, as although you are 
ready to excuse all things in your friends, yet 
you yourself are always ready to perform every 
thing, and to go forward without omitting that 
which might be pardoned in you, But persuade 
yourself, good Cranvilde, that if there happen 
any thing at any time, wherin I may really show 
unto you my love, there, God willing, I will 
never be wanting. Commend me to my mistress 
your wife, for I dare not now invert the order 
begun, and to your whole family, whom mine 
doth with all their hearts salute. From my 
house in the country this 10th of June, 1528." 
Conradus Goclenius, a Westphalian, was com- 
mended, by Erasmus unto Sir Thomas More, 
thus : " I praise your disposition, my dearest More, 
exceedingly, for that your content is to be rich 
in faithful and sincere friends, and that you 
esteem the greatest felicity of this life to be 
placed therein. Some tal^e great care that they 
may not be cozened with counterfeit jewels; but 
you contemning all such trifles, seem to yourself 
to be rich enough, if you can but get an un- 
feigned friend. For there is no man taketh 
delight, either in cards, dice, chess, hunting, or 
music, so much as you do in discoursing with a 


learned and pleasant-conceited companion. And 
although you are stored with this kind of riches, 
yet because that I know that a covetous man 
hath never enough, and that this manner of my 
dealing hath luckily happened both to you and 
me divers times heretofore, I deliver to your 
custody one friend more, whom I would have you 
accept with your whole heart. His name is 
Conradus Goclenius, a Westphalian, who hath 
with great applause and no less fruit, lately 
taught rhetoric in the college newly erected at 
Louvaine, called Trilingue. Now, I hope, that 
as soon as you shall have true experience of 
him, I shall have thanks of you both ; for so I 
had of Cranvilde, who so wholly possesseth your 
love, that I almost envy him for it." 

But of all strangers Erasmus challenged 
unto himself his love most especially, which had 
long continued by mutual letters expressing 
great affection ; and increased so much that he 
took a journey of purpose into England to see 
and enjoy his personal acquaintance and more 
entire familiarity ; at which time it is reported 
how that he, who conducted him in his passage, 
procured that Sir Thomas More and he should 
first meet together in London at the Lord 
Mayor's table, neither of them knowing each 
other. And in the dinner time, they chanced 
to fall into argument, Erasmus still endeavour- 


ing to defend the worser part ; but he was so 
sharply set upon and opposed by Sir Thomas 
More, that perceiving that he was now to argue 
with a readier wit than ever he had before met 
withal, he broke forth into these words, not 
without some choler, " Aut tu es Morus aut 
nullus." Whereto Sir Thomas readily replied, 
" Aut tu es Erasmus aut diabolus," because at 
that time he was strangely disguised, and had 
sought to defend impious positions ; for although 
he was a singular humanist, and one that could 
utter his mind in a most eloquent phrase, yet 
had he always a delight to scoff at religious 
matters, and find fault with all sorts of clergy- 
men. He took a felicity to set out sundry com- 
mentaries upon the fathers' works, censuring 
them at his pleasure, for which cause he is 
termed " Errans-mus," because he wandereth 
here and there in other men's harvests ; yea, in his 
writings he is said to have hatched many of those 
eggs of heresy which the apostate Friar Luther 
had before laid ; not that he is to be accounted 
an heretic, for he would never be obstinate in 
any of his opinions, yet would he irreligiously 
glance at all antiquity, and find many faults 
with the present state of the church. Whilst 
he was in England, Sir Thomas More used him 
most courteously, doing many offices of a dear 
friend for him, as well by his word as his purse ; 


whereby he bound Erasmus so straitly unto 
him, that he ever after spoke and wrote upon 
all occasions most highly in his praise ; but Sir 
Thomas, in success of time, grew less affec- 
tionate unto him, by reason he saw him still 
fraught with much vanity and unconstancy in 
respect of religion ; as when Tindall objecteth 
unto Sir Thomas, that his darling Erasmus had 
translated the word " church" into " congrega- 
tion," and " priest" into " elder," even as himself 
had done, Sir Thomas answered thereto, " if my 
darling Erasmus hath translated those places 
with the like wicked intent that Tindall hath 
done, he shall be no more my darling."* Fi- 
nally, long after having found in Erasmus's 
works many things necessarily to be amended, 
he counselled him, as his friend, in some latter 
book, to imitate the example of Saint Augustine, 
who did set out a book of retractations, to cor- 
rect in his writing what he had unadvisedly 
written in the heat of youth ; but he that was far 
different from Saint Augustine in humility, 
would never follow his counsel, and therefore 
he is censured by the church for a busy fellow : 
many of his books are condemned, and his opi- 
nions accounted erroneous, though he always 
lived a Catholic priest, and hath written most 

* The printed copies add, " but the devil's darling." 


sharply against all those new gospellers, who 
then began to appear in the world ; and in a 
letter to John Fabius, Bishop of Vienna, he saith 
that he hateth these seditious opinions, with the 
which the world was miserably shaken ; neither 
doth he dissemble, saith he, being so addicted to 
piety, that if he incline to any part of the 
balance, he will bend rather to superstition 
than to impiety ; by which speech he seemeth, 
in doubtful words, to tax the church with super- 
stition, and the new apostolical brethren with 

Now, to conclude this matter of Sir Thomas 
More's friends, let us hear what Erasmus 
speaketh of him, in an epistle to Ulderick 
Hutten : " More seemeth to be made and born 
for friendship, whereof he is a most sincere fol- 
lower, and a fast keeper ; neither doth he fear 
to be taxed for that he hath many friends, 
which thing Hesiodus praiseth nothing : every 
man may attain to his friendship ; he is nothing 
slow in chusing, most apt in nourishing, and 
most constant in keeping them; if by chance 
he falls into one's amity whose vices he cannot 
amend, he slackeneth the reins of friendship, 
disjointing it by little and little, rather than dis- 
solving it suddenly. Whom he findeth sincere 
and constant, agreeing with his own good dispo- 


sition, he is so delighted with their company and 
familiarity, that he seemeth to place his chief 
worldly pleasure in such men's conversation ; 
and although he be very negligent in his own 
temporal affairs, yet none is more diligent 
than he in furthering his friends' causes. What 
need I speak many words ? If any were desirous 
to have a perfect pattern of friendship, none 
can make it better than More. In his company 
there is such rare affability, and such sweet 
behaviour, that no man is of so harsh a nature 
but that his talk is able to make him merry, no 
matter so unpleasing, but he with his wit can 
shake from it all tediousness ;" declaring plainly 
in these words, the most pleasant disposition of 
Sir Thomas More, whose only merry jests and 
witty sayings were able to fill a whole volume, 
if they were all gathered together; some of 
which Doctor Stapleton hath set down in two seve- 
ral chapters, whereof I shall also mention some 
hereafter ; but the greatest number have never 
been set down in writing, as daily falling from 
him in his familiar discourse. All which shew 
plainly, that he had a quiet conscience, full of 
alacrity, and a witty conceit, able to please all 
men that resorted unto him. And who would 
not be glad of his company, who was by nature 
most affable, in his prince's favour very high, 


and stored with worldly blessings, as ample pos- 
sessions, wealth enough and pomp of the world 
even to satiety. 

He used, when he was in the city of London 
a justice of peace, to go to the sessions at New- 
gate, as -other justices did; amongst whom it 
happened that one of the ancient justices of 
peace was wont to chide the poor men that had 
their purses cut, for not keeping them more 
warily, saying that their negligence was cause, 
that there were so many cutpurses brought 
thither, which, when Sir Thomas had heard 
him often speak, at one time especially, the night 
after he sent for one of the chief cutpurses that 
was in prison, and promised him that he would 
stand his good friend, if he would cut that jus- 
tice's purse, whilst he sat the next day on the 
bench, and presently make a sign thereof unto 
him ; the fellow gladly promiseth him to do it. 
The next day, therefore, when they sat again, 
that thief was called amongst the first, who, 
being accused of his fact, said that he would 
excuse himself sufficiently, if he were but per- 
mitted, in private, to speak to some one of the 
bench ; he was bid therefore to chuse one whom 
he would ; and he presently chose that grave 
old man, who then had his pouch at his girdle ; 
and whilst he roundeth him in the ear, he cun- 
ningly cuts his purse, and, taking his leave 


solemnly, goeth down to his place. Sir Thomas 
knowing by a sign that it was dispatched, taketh 
presently an occasion to move all the bench to 
distribute some alms upon a poor needy fellow 
that was there, beginning himself to do it. When 
the old man came to open his purse, he sees it 
cut away, and wondering, said, that he had it 
when he came to sit there that morning. Sir 
Thomas replied, in a pleasant manner, " What ! 
will you charge any of us with felony?" He 
beginning to be angry and ashamed of the mat- 
ter, Sir Thomas calls the cutpurse, and wills 
him to give him his purse again, counselling the 
good man hereafter not to be so bitter a cen- 
surer of innocent men's negligence, when as 
himself could not keep his purse safe in that 
open assembly. For these his witty jests, he 
may well be said to have been neither hateful 
to the nobility, nor unpleasing to the people. 
If we read his letters, they show great elo- 
quence, a pure Latin phrase, and a religious 
mind ; for always they express either humility 
in himself, zeal of God's honour, love to his 
neighbour, compassion of the afflicted, or a dear 
affection to his wife and children ; so that it 
may be said, that he had, pectus vere candidum, 
a very sincere heart; and surely they breathe 
out matter either of wonderful devotion, or 
admirable wisdom. 




LTHOUGH he lived a courtier, 
and a lay married man,, yet when 
he came home, he would, both in 
the morning and in the evening, 
before he went to bed, say in his chapel certain 
prayers, devoutly upon his knees, with his wife, 
children, and family, and because he was desirous 
sometimes to be solitary, and would sequester 
himself from the world, to recollect himself, and 
shake off the dust of earthly businesses, which 
otherwise would easily defile his soul, he built 
for himself a chapel, a library, and a gallery, 
called the New Buildings, a good distance from 
his main house, wherein, as his custom was upon 
other days, to busy himself in prayer and medi- 
tation, whensoever he was at leisure ; so usually 
he would continue there on the Fridays, in me- 
mory of Christ's bitter passion, from morning 
until night, spending the whole day in devotion ; 
so that he became an excellent man in the con- 
templative life ; of all which let us hear what 


Erasmus writeth : " More hath built near Lon- 
don, upon the Thames side, to wit, at Chelsey, 
late my Lord of Lincoln's,* a commodious house, 
neither mean, nor subject to envy yet magnifi- 
cent enough ; there he converseth affably with 
his family, his wife, his son, and daughter-in- 
law, his three daughters and their husbands, 
with eleven grandchildren. There is not any 
man living so loving to his children as he ; and 
he loyeth his old wife as well as if she were a 
young maid ; and such is the excellency of his 
temper, that whatsoever happeneth that could 
not be helped, he loveth it as though nothing 
could happen more happily. You would say 
there were in that place Plato's academy; 
but I do the house injury in comparing it to 
Plato's academy, wherein there was only dis- 
putations of numbers and geometrical figures, 
and sometimes of moral virtues. I should 
rather call his house a school, or university of 
Christian religion ; for there is none therein 
but readeth or studieth the liberal sciences; 
their special care is piety and virtue ; there is 
no quarrelling, or intemperate words heard; 
none seen idle ; which household discipline that 
worthy gentleman doth not govern by proud 

* The printed copies read, " that which my Lord of Lin- 
coln bought of Sir Robert Cecil." 


and lofty words, but with all kind and courteous 
benevolence. Every body performetb his duty, 
yet is there always alacrity, neither is sober 
mirth any thing wanting." And again he writeth 
thus : " His first wife, which was but young, he 
caused to be instructed in learning, and to be 
taught all kind of music ; she dying after she 
had brought forth four children, he married, as 
is aforesaid, a widow, not for lust, but to be a 
governess to his young family, who, although 
she were inclining to old age, and of a nature 
somewhat harsh, and besides very worldly, yet 
he persuaded her to play upon the lute, viol, 
and some other instruments, every day perform- 
ing thereon her task ; and so with the like gen- 
tleness he ordered his whole family." He suf- 
fered none of his servants either to be idle, or 
to give themselves to any games ; but some 
of them he allotted to look to the garden, 
assigning to every one his sundry plot ; some 
again he set to sing, some to play on the 
organs ; he suffered none to give themselves 
to cards or dice. The men abode on the 
one side of the house, the women on the other, 
seldom conversing together ; he used before 
bed-time to call them together, and say certain 
prayers with them, as the " Miserere" psalm, 
" Ad te, Domine, levavi;" " Deus misereatur 
nostri ;" " Salve Regina ;" and " De profundis" 


for the dead, and some others. He suffered 
none to be absent from mass on the Sundays, or 
upon great feasts or holidays. He watched much 
in the night all the matins time. Upon Good 
Friday he would call them together in the New 
Buildings, and read the holy passion unto them ; 
he would now and then interpose some speeches 
of his own to move them either to compassion, 
compunction, or such pious affections. Eras- 
mus saith, " That there was a fatal felicity fallen 
on the servants of that house, that none lived 
in better estate. After Sir Thomas More's 
death, none ever was touched with the least 
aspersion of any evil fame."* 

* To the description given by Erasmus of the house of Sir 
Thomas More at Chelsey, of whose hospitalities he had often 
partaken, more correctly and more beautifully than is seen in 
the bald translation of our author, I shall annex another, 
which appears to have been overlooked by all who have written 
on the life and manners of More. It occurs in the " II Moro" 
of Ellis Hey wood, printed at Florence in 1556, and dedicated 
to Cardinal Pole. I give it from a translation of this rare 
volume, made by a female pen. " Along the beautiful banks 
of the Thames there are many delightful villas and chateaus 
situated in charming spots, in one of which, very near the city 
of London, dwelt Sir Thomas More. It was a beautiful and 
commodious residence, and to this place it was his usual prac- 
tice to retire, when weary of London. At this house, as well 
on account of its proximity to London, as on account of the 
admirable character of its owner, men distinguished by their 
genius and learning, who dwelt in the city, were often accus- 


He used to have one read daily at his table, 
which, being ended, he would ask of some of them 

tomed to meet ; where, when alone and at leisure, they would 
enter into some useful argument or discourse on things pertain- 
ing to human nature ; and each using in the best manner his 
intellect and extensive knowledge, their arguments were at- 
tended with great profit to each other. And although, when 
I call to memory so choice a company as this was, I feel in- 
clined to write concerning them, in order to present before the 
world a true picture of a real and genuine academy ; never- 
theless, leaving that unto those who, being members of it, 
have a more perfect knowledge of the subject, I have now only 
undertaken to give a single discourse." Heywood's work is a 
dialogue, supposed to take place at Sir Thomas More's ; not, 
as Wood says, in consolation with him, but on the sources 
of happiness. The six gentlemen, amongst whom the dialogue 
passes, having dined one day with Sir Thomas More, " retired 
after dinner into a garden, distant about two stone-throws 
from the house, and all went together to stand upon a small 
green eminence, and gaze on the prospect. The place was 
wonderfully charming, both from the advantages of its site, for 
from one part almost the whole of the noble city of London 
was visible ; and from another, the beautiful Thames, with 
green meadows and woody eminences all around : and also 
for its own beauty, for as it was crowned with an almost per- 
petual verdure, it had flowering shrubs, and the branches of 
fruit trees which grew near, interwoven in so beautiful a man- 
ner, that it appeared like a living tapestry woven by Nature 
herself, and much more noble than any other work, inasmuch 
as it gave entire satisfaction, whereas the copies of beautiful 
objects leave the mind rather in desire than content." Sir 
Thomas More's house was situated at the north end of Beau- 


how they understood such and such a place, 
and so there grew a friendly communication, 
recreating all men that were present with some 
jest or other. My aunt Roper writing hereof to 
her father in the Towe* saith : " What do you 
think, my most dear father, doth comfort us at 
Chelsey in this your absence ? surely the remem- 
brance of your manner of life passed amongst 
us, your holy conversation, your wholesome 
counsels, your examples of virtue, of which 

fort Row, in Chelsey, extending westward at the distance of 
about a hundred yards from the Thames. After More's death 
it had a succession of illustrious possessors. By Henry it was 
granted to Sir William Pawlet, afterwards Marquis of Win- 
chester, and lord high treasurer. From his family it suc- 
cessively passed into the hands of Lord Dacre, the great Lord 
Burghley, the Earl of Salisbury his son, the Earl of Lincoln, 
Sir Arthur Gorges, the Earl of Middlesex, lord treasurer, 
Villiers Duke of Buckingham, Sir Bulstrode Whitlock, the 
second Villiers Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Bristol, the 
Duke of Beaufort, and, finally, of Sir Hans Sloane, in 1738, 
who pulled it down two years afterwards. Lysons' " Environs 
of London," vol. ii. p. 80. The house of an illustrious man 
should be regarded with the same feeling as his tomb, and 
pity it is that the destruction of this mansion, which had been 
the " domicilium musarum et omnium virtutum et charitatum," 
and where had been so often the " felix contubernium" of the 
men who cherished in its growth the then young and thriving 
plant of western literature should rest on such a name as 


there is hope that they do not only persevere 
with you, but that they are by God's grace much 
more increased." 

His children used often to translate out of 
English into Latin, and out of Latin into English : 
and Doctor Stapleton testifieth that he hath seen 
an Apology of Sir Thomas More's to the univer- 
sity of Oxford in defence of learning, turned 
into Latin by one of his daughters, and translated 
again into English by another. And to stir up 
his wife and children to the desire of heavenly 
things, he would sometimes use these and the 
like words unto them : " It is now no mastery 
for you, my joys, to get heaven ; for every 
body giveth you good example, every one storeth 
your heads with good counsels ; you see also 
virtue rewarded, and vice punished ; so that you 
are carried up thither by the chins ; but if you 
chance to live that time, wherein none will give 
you good example, nor none any good counsel ; 
when you shall see before your eyes virtue 
punished and vice rewarded, if then you will 
stand fast, and stick to God closely, upon pain 
of my life, though you be but half good, God 
will allow you for whole good." If his wife or 
any of his children chanced to be sick or 
troubled, he would say unto them : " we must 
not look to go to heaven at our pleasure and on 
feather beds ; that is not the way, for our Lord 


himself went thither with great pain ; and the 
servant must not look to be in better case than 
his master." As he would in this sort animate 
them to bear their troubles patiently, so would 
he in like manner teach them to withstand the 
devil and his temptations valiantly, comparing 
our ghostly enemy to an ape, which if he be not 
looked unto, he will be busy and bold to do 
shrewd turns ; but if he be espied and checked 
for them, he will suddenly leap back and adven- 
ture no further ; so the devil finding a man idle, 
sluggish, and using no resistance to his sugges- 
tions, waxeth hardy, and will not fail still to 
continue them, until he hath thoroughly brought 
us to his purpose ; but if he find a man with 
diligence still seeking to withstand and prevent 
his temptations he waxeth weary, and at last he 
utterly forsaketh him, being a spirit of so high a 
pride, that he cannot endure to be mocked ; and 
again so envious that he feareth still least he not 
only thereby should catch a foul fall, but also 
minister unto us more matter of merit. When 
he saw any of his take great pains in dressing 
themselves to be fine either in wearing that 
which was uneasy, or in stroking up their hair 
to make themselves high foreheads, he would 
tell them that if God gave them not hell, he 
should do them great injury ; for they took more 
pains to please the world and the devil, than 


many even virtuous men did to cleanse their 
souls and please God. 

Many such speeches tending to devotion and 
care of their souls had he every day at dinner 
and supper, after the reading was done, as is 
before said, with such heavenly discourses flow- 
ing with eloquence, that it might well be said of 
him, which the Queen of Sheba said of Solomon : 
" Blessed art thou ; and blessed be thy Lord 
God ; and blessed are all they that attend and 
wait on thee :" for no doubt there was the spirit 
of God in that family, where every one was 
busied about somewhat or other ; no cards, no dice, 
no company keeping of the men with the women ; 
but as it were in some religious house, all chaste, 
all courteous, all devout ; their recreations was 
either music of voices or viols ; for which cause he 
procured his wife, as I have said, to play thereon, 
to .draw her mind from the world to which by 
her nature she was too much addicted; but 
so, as Sir Thomas would say of her, that she 
was often penny-wise and pound-foolish, saving 
a candle's end, and spoiling a velvet gown. Of 
her also he meant it, when in his book of Com- 
fort in Tribulation he telleth of one, who would 
rate her husband because he had no mind to set 
himself forward in the world, saying unto him : 
" Tillie vallie, tillie vallie : will you sit and make 
goslings in the ashes ; my mother hath often said 


unto me, it is better to rule than to be ruled/' 
" Now in truth/' answered Sir Thomas, " that is 
truly said, good wife ; for I never found you yet 
willing to be ruled." And in another place of 
the same book he calleth this wife of his, a jolly 

For all his public affairs and household 
exercises, he never left off to write learned 
books either of devotion or against heresies, 
which now began to spread themselves from 
Germany into Flanders, and from thence into 
England by many pestiferous pamphlets and 
books, against which Sir Thomas More laboured 
with his pen more than any other Englishman 
whatsoever, in regard of his zeal to God, and 
the honour of his immaculate spouse the 
Catholic Church, as appeareth by his four books 
of Dialogues, a work full of learning and wit, 
where he argueth most profoundly of the invo- 
cation of saints, pilgrimages, relics, and images ; 
he teacheth also substantially, how we may 
know, which is the true church, and that that 
church cannot err. 

After he had ended this book, there was a 
lewd fellow set out a pamphlet intituled the 
Supplication of Beggars ; by which under pre- 
tence of helping the poor, he goeth about to cast 
out the clergy and to overthrow all abbies and 
religious houses, bearing men in hand, that 


after that the Gospel should be preached, beg- 
gars should decrease, thieves and idle people be 
the fewer, &c. Against whom Sir Thomas wrote 
a singular book, which he named, A Supplica- 
tion of the Souls in Purgatory, making them 
there complain of the most uncharitable deal- 
ing of certain upstarts, who would persuade 
all men to take from them the spiritual alms 
that have been in all ages bestowed upon these 
poor souls, who feel greater misery than any 
beggar in this world ; and he proveth most truly, 
that an ocean of many mischievous events would 
indeed overwhelm the realm : " Then," saith he, 
" shall Luther's gospel come in ; then shall Tin- 
dal's testament be taken up ; then shall false 
heresies be preached ; then shall the sacraments 
be set at naught ; then shall fasting and prayer 
be neglected ; then shall holy saints be blas- 
phemed; then shall Almighty God be displeased, 
then shall he withdraw his grace, and let all run 
to ruin ; then shall all virtue be had in derision 
then shall all vice reign and run forth unbridled; 
then shall youth leave labour and all occupation ; 
then shall folks wax idle and fall to unthrifti- 
ness ; then shall thieves and beggars increase ; 
then shall unthrifts flock together, and each 
bear him bold of other ; then shall all laws be 
laughed to scorn; then shall servants set naught 
by their masters, and unruly people rebel against 


their governors; then will rise up rifling and rob- 
bery, mischief and plain insurrection; whereof 
what the end will be, or when you shall see it, 
only God knoweth." And that Luther's new 
gospel hath taken such effect in many parts of 
Christendom, the woful experience doth feel- 
ingly, to the great grief of all good folks, testify 
to the world : of all which, and that the land 
would be peopled to the devouring of one 
another, he writeth particularly, more like one 
that had seen what has ensued already, than like 
one who spoke of things to come. 

He wrote also a laboursome book against 
Tindal refuting particularly every period of his 
books; a short treatise also against young 
Father Fryth, in defence of the real presence, 
which that heretic did gainsay, and for that was 
after burnt : against Fryer Barnes* Church he 
wrote also an Apology, and a Defence thereof, 
under the name of Salem and Byzance ; which 
are all set forth together with that most excel- 
lent piece of work, comprised in three books, 
of Comfort in Tribulation; which subject he 
handleth so wittily as none hath come near him 
either in weight of grave sentences, devout con- 
siderations, or fit similitudes ; seasoning always 
the troublesomeness of the matter with some 
merry jests or pleasant tales, as it were sugar, 
whereby we drink up the more willingly these 


wholesome drugs, of themselves unsavory to 
flesh and blood ; which kind of writing he hath 
used in all his works, so that none can ever be 
weary to read them, though they be never so 

Wherefore I have thought it not amiss to 
set down in this place amongst a thousand 
others, some of the apophthegms, which Doctor 
Stapleton hath collected in two whole chapters : 

Do not think, saith Sir Thomas More, that 
to be always pleasant, which mad men do laugh- 
ing; for one may often see a man in Bedlam 
laugh when he knocks his head against the 
wall: uttering this to condemn them that esteem 
all things good or bad, which the common people 
judge to be. 

Again ; A sinner, saith he, cannot taste 
spiritual delights ; because all carnal are first to 
be abandoned. 

By an excellent similitude he teacheth us 
why few do fear death, thus : Even as they 
which look upon things afar off, see them con- 
fusedly, not knowing whether they be men or 
trees; even so he that promiseth unto himself 
long life, looketh upon death as a thing afar off, 
not judging what it is, how terrible, what griefs 
and dangers it bringeth with it. And that none 
ought to promise himself long life he proveth 
thus : Even as two men that are brought out of 


prison to the gallows, one by a long way about, 
the other by a direct short path, yet neither 
knowing which is which until they come to the 
gallows, neither of these two can promise him- 
self longer life, the one than the other, by reason 
of the uncertainty of the way ; even so a young 
man cannot promise himself longer life than an 
old man. Whereby he suppose th that every man 
that is born is condemned to die for his original 
sin : the old man hath a direct path ; the young 
man about.* 

Against the vanity of worldly honour he 
speaketh thus : Even as that criminal person, 
who is to be led to execution shortly should be 
accounted vain, if he should engrave his coat of 
arms upon the prison gate ; even so are they 
vain, who endeavour to leave, with great indus- 
try, monuments of their dignity in the prison of 
this world. 

By a subtile dilemma he teacheth us, why 
we are not to think that we can be hurt, by the 
loss of our superfluous goods, in this manner : 
he that suffereth any loss of his goods, he would 
either have bestowed them with praise and libe- 
rality, and so God will accept his will instead of 
the deed itself, or else he would have wasted 

* This clause from " Whereby he supposeth," &c. is omitted 
in the printed copies. 


them wickedly, and then he hath cause to 
rejoice, that the matter of sinning is taken 

To express lively the folly of an old covetous 
man he writeth thus: A thief that is to die to- 
morrow stealeth to-day, and being asked, why 
lie did so ? he answered, that it was a great plea- 
sure unto him to be master of that money but 
one night ; so an old miser never ceaseth to 
increase his heap of coin, though he be never so 

To express the folly and madness of them 
that delight wholly in hoarding up wealth, he 
writeth in the person of the souls in purgatory 
thus ; in his book of the Supplication of the 
Souls : We that are here in purgatory when we 
think of our bags of gold, which we hoarded up 
in our life time, we condemn and laugh at our 
own folly no otherwise than if a man of good 
years should find by chance the bag of cherry- 
stones which he had carefully hid when he was 
a child. 

In his book of Comfort in Tribulation, that 
men should not be troubled in adversity, he 
writeth thus : The minds of mortal men are so 
blind and uncertain, so mutable and unconstant 
in their desires, that God could not punish men 
worse, than if he should suffer every thing to 
happen that every man doth wish for. The 


fruit of tribulation he describeth thus : All 
punishment inflicted in hell, is only as a just 
revenge because it is no place of purging : in 
purgatory all punishments purge only, because 
it is no place of merit ; but in this life every 
punishment can both purge sin and procure 
merit for a just man, because in this life there is 
place for both. 

He saith also, that they which give them- 
selves to pleasure and idleness in this time of 
pilgrimage, are like to him, who travelling to his 
own house where there is abundance of all 
things, would yet be an hostler in an inn by the 
way, for to get an innkeeper's favour, and so end 
his life there in a stable. 

Speaking of ghostly fathers that seek to 
please their penitents, he saith : Even as a 
mother sendeth forth her child to school with 
fair words and promises that hath slept too long 
in the morning, and therefore feareth the rod; 
when he weepeth and blubbereth, she promiseth 
him all will be well, because it is not so late as 
he imagineth, or that his master will pardon him 
for that fault this time, not caring what he endur- 
eth when he cometh thither indeed, so she send 
him merry from home with his bread and butter 
in his hand : even so many pastors of souls 
speak pleasing things to their sheep that are rich 
and delicate, they promise them, when they are 


dying and fear hell, that all things shall he well 
with them, telling them, that either they have not 
offended God so grievously as they fear, or that 
God being merciful will easily forgive them ; 
'nothing careful whether after this life they feel 
hell or no, so that they make them not sad in 
this world, and shew themselves grateful unto 
them here. 

Pleasure, saith he, doth not only withdraw 
wicked men from prayer, but also affliction 
sometimes ; yet this is the difference ; that 
affliction doth sometimes wrest some short 
prayer from the wickedest man alive ; but plea- 
sure calleth away even one that is indifferent 
good from all prayer. 

Against impenitent persons and such as defer 
the amending of their life till the latter end. of 
their days, he saith thus : A lewd fellow that had 
spent all his life in wickedness, was wont to brag> 
that he could be saved, if he spoke but three 
words at the hour of his death ; riding over a 
bridge that was broken, his horse stumbling, and 
not being able to keep himself from tumbling 
into the water, as he saw himself fall headlong 
into it, casting away the bridle, he said : the 
devil take- all ; and so with his three words he 
perished in the river. 

He that is lightened with a true vision, dif- 


fereth from him that hath an illusion ; even as a 
man awake differeth from him that dreameth. 

Even as he that passeth over a narrow 
bridge by reason of his fear often falleth, espe- 
cially if others say unto him, you fall ; which 
otherwise he would safely pass over : even so he 
that is fearful by nature and full of pusillanimity 
often falleth into desperation, the devil crying 
unto him, thou art damned, thou art damned ; 
which he would never hearken to nor be in any 
danger, if he should take unto him a good heart, 
and by wholesome counsel fear nothing the 
devil's outcry. 

The prosperity of this world is like the 
shortest winter's day ; and we are lifted up in it 
as an arrow shot up on high, where a hot breath 
doth delight us, but from thence we fall suddenly 
to the earth, and there we stick fast, either be- 
mired with the dirt of infamy, or starving with 
cold, being pluckt out of our feathers. 

Again he saith : As it is a hard thing to touch 
pitch and not to be defiled therewith ; a dry 
stick to be put into the fire and not to burn ; to 
nourish a snake in our bosom and not to be 
stung with it ; so a most hard thing it is to be 
rich and honoured in this world and not to be 
struck with the dart of pride and vain glory. 

Let there be two beggars, saith he, who have 


long timed begged together ; one of whom some 
rich man hath entertained in his house, put him 
in silk, given him money in his purse, but with 
this condition as he tells him, that within a short 
space he will thrust him out of his doors and 
take all that away from him again : if he in the 
meanwhile, being thus gallant, should chance to 
meet with his fellow-beggar, would he be so 
foolish as for all this not to acknowledge him for 
his companion ? or would he for these few days' 
happiness hold himself better than he ? Apply- 
ing this to every man's case, who cometh naked 
into this world, and is to return naked again. 

He compareth covetousness to a fire, which 
by how much the more wood there is laid on 
it to burn, so much apter is it to burn more still. 

That there are many in this life, that buy 
hell with more toil than heaven might be won 
with, by half. 

He foresaw heresy in England, as appeareth 
by this witty comparison : Like as before a great 
storm the sea swelleth, and hath unwonted 
motions without any wind stirring ; so may we 
see here many of our Englishmen, which a 
few years ago could not endure to hear the 
name of an heretic, schismatic, Lutheran, or 
sacramentary, now to be very well contented 
both to suffer them and to praise them some- 
what, yea, to learn by little and little as much as 


they can be suffered, to find fault, and to tax 
willingly the church, the clergy, the ceremonies, 
yea, and sacraments too. 

Also he hath this argument : If he be called 
stout that hath fortitude, he hot who hath heat, 
wise that hath wisdom ; yet he who hath riches 
cannot be said presently to be good ; therefore 
riches cannot be numbered amongst good things. 
Twenty, yea a hundred bare heads standing 
by a noble man do not defend his head from 
cold so much as his own hat doth alone, which 
yet he is enforced to put off in the presence of 
his prince. 

That is the worst affection of the mind 
which doth delight us in that thing, which can- 
not be gotten but by offending God. He that 
doth get or keep worldly wealth by offending 
God, let him fully persuade himself, that those 
things will never do him good ; for either 
God will quickly take away evil gotten goods, 
or will suffer them to be kept for a greater 

Even as he that knoweth certainly that he 
is to be banished into a strange country, never 
to return into his own again, and will not endure 
that his goods be transported thither, being loth 
to want them for that little while rather than 
ever to enjoy them after, may well be thought a 
mad man ; so are they out of their wits, who 


enticed with vain affections to keep their goods 
always about them, and neglective to give alms 
for fear of wanting, cannot endure to have these 
goods sent hefore them to heaven, when as they 
know most assuredly that they shall enjoy them 
always there with all plenty, and with a double 

To ease his thoughts when he was in prison, 
he imagined that all the world was but a prison, 
out of which every day some one or other was 
called to execution, that is to death. 

In his daily talk he used also many witty say- 
ings, as : That it is an easy matter in some cases 
for a man to lose his head, and yet to have no 
harm at all. 

Good deeds, the world being ungrateful is 
wont never to recompense, neither can it, though 
it were grateful. 

Speaking of heretics, he would say : they 
have taken away hypocrisy but they have placed 
impudence in the room thereof; so that they 
which before feigned themselves to be religious, 
now do boast of their wickedness. 

He prayed thus : O Lord God, grant, that I 
endeavour to get those things, for which I am 
to pray unto thee. 

When he had any at his table speaking 
detraction, he would interrupt them, thus : Let 


any man think as he pleaseth, I like this room 
very well, for it is well contrived and fairly 

Of an ungrateful person he would say, that 
they wrote good turns done unto them in the 
dust ; but even the least injuries in marble. 

He compareth reason to a handmaid, which 
if she be well taught, will obey ; and faith to 
the mistress which is to keep her in awe : " cap- 
tivans intellectum in obsequium fidei." 

To seek for the truth amongst heretics, is 
like to a man wandering in a desert, and meet- 
ing with a company of lewd fellows, of whom 
he asketh his way, they all turning back to back, 
each pointeth right before him, and assureth 
him that that is his true way ; though never so 
contrary one to the other. 

He saith, that he were a mad man that 
would drink poison to take a preservative after 
that ; but he is a wise man, that spilling the 
poison, leaveth the antidote for him that hath 
need thereof. 

As it is an easier thing to weave a new net 
rather than to sew up all the holes of an old ; 
even so it is a less labour to translate the Bible 
anew than to mend heretical versions. 

He is not wise that eateth the bread which 
is poisoned by his enemies, although he should 


see a friend of his scrape it away never so much, 
especially having other bread to eat not poisoned. 

He was wont to say, that he may well be 
admitted to heaven who was very desirous to 
see God ; but on the contrary side, he that doth 
not desire earnestly shall never be admitted 

Against an heretic he speaketh thus : that if 
monastical life be against the Gospel, as you 
seem to say it must needs be, that the Gospel be 
contrary unto it ; and that were to say, that 
Christ taught us to pamper ourselves carefully, 
to eat well, to drink well, to sleep well, and flow 
in all lust and pleasure. 

If faith cannot be without good works, why 
then babble you so much against good works, 
which are the fruits of faith. 

That people should fall into bad life and lust, 
is as great a miracle, he saith, as stones to fall 

Whereas, he saith, you inveigh against 
school divinity, because truth is there called in 
doubt, not without danger ; we inveigh against 
you, because false matters are held by you un- 
doubtedly for truth itself. 

These good fellows (speaking of heretics) 
will rather hang out of God's vineyard, than 
suffer themselves to be hired into it. 


Heretics' writings, seeing they conclude no 
good thing are altogether tedious, be they never 
so short. 

And again : As none can run a shorter race 
than he that wants both his feet ; so none can 
write shorter than he that hath not any good 
matter nor fit words to express it. 

When an heretic told him, that he should 
not write against heretics unless he could con- 
vert them ; he said, that it was like as if one 
should not find fault with burners of houses, 
unless he were able to build them up again at 
his own charge. 

He telleth, that heretics use to frame catho- 
lics' arguments very weak and frivolous, that 
they may the more easily confute them ; even as 
little children make houses of tyle-shardes, 
which they cast down with great sport again 

Of their contumelious speeches against him- 
self, he saith, I am not so void of reason, that I 
can expect reasonable matter from such unrea- 
sonable men. 

When they said his writings were nothing 
but jesting toys, he saith : I scarce believe that 
these good brethren can find any pleasant things 
in my books ; for I write nothing in them that 
may be pleasing unto them. When the heretic 


Constantino had broken prison in his house,* 
he bad his man go lock the door fast and see the 
place mended sure,, lest he should come back 
again ; and when the heretics reported, that he 
was so sorry for this, that he could not for anger 
eat in three days, he answered that he was not so 
harsh of disposition to find fault with any man 
for rising and walking when he sate not at his 

* Here is an indirect but positive testimony to what has 
been charged upon More, that he sometimes converted his 
house into a prison for the restraint of those whom he called 
heretics. Of Barnham, another Reformer, Fox relates, that 
" he was carried out of the Middle Temple to the chancellor's 
house at Chelsey, where he continued in free prison awhile, till 
the time that Sir Thomas More saw that he could not prevail 
in perverting of him to his sect. Then he cast him into prison 
in his own house, and whipped him at the tree in his garden 
called the Tree of Troth, and after sent him to the Tower to be 
racked." Mart. vol. ii. p. 279. 

In More's defence of himself in respect of his treatment of 
the Reformers, he admits the imprisonment, but denies the ill- 
treatment of them, except in two cases, not ill-defended. 
That defence ought to be read by all who speak of More. 
See it in Cayley's Memoirs of him, p. 137. He distinctly 
denies the story of the " Tree of Troth." " The lies are 
neither few nor small which many of the blessed brethren 
have made, and daily yet make by me. Divers of them have 
said, that of such as were in my house while I was chancellor, 
I used to examine them with torments, causing them to be 
bounden to a tree in my garden, and there piteously beaten,"&c 


All his English works were set out together 
in a great volume, whilst Queen Mary reigned, by 
Judge Rastall, Sir Thomas' sister's son, by which 
works one may see that he was very skilful in 
school divinity and matters of controversy, for he 
argueth sharply, he confirmeth the truth pro- 
foundly, and citeth both Scriptures and fathers 
most aptly ; besides he urgeth for the adverse 
part more a great deal than any heretic ever did 
that wrote before him. 

But to see how he handleth Luther, under 
the name of one Rosse, would do any man good, 
feigning that Rosse wrote his book from Rome, 
against the most ridiculous and scurrilous pam- 
phlet which Luther had made against King 
Henry the Eighth, who of good zeal had set out 
with great praise a book in defence of the seven 
sacraments and the pope's authority, for which 
Pope Leo the Tenth gave him the title of De- 
fender of the Faith. Wherefore in defence of 
his sovereign, whom Luther had most basely 
railed at, calling him often Thomistical ass, and 
that he would bewray the king's crown,* with 
many other scurrilous speeches ; Sir Thomas 
painteth out the foul-mouthed fellow in his lively 
colours, and made him so enraged, that it stung 

* Here the printed copy adds, " who was not worthy to 
wipe his shoes." 


him more than any other book that ever was set 
out against him. 

Finally, in every one of his books, when- 
soever he toucheth any controversy, he doth it 
so exactly that one may see, that he had dili- 
gently read many great divines ; and that he was 
well seen in S. Thomas the father of all divinity, 
this may be an evident sign, which his secretary 
John Harris, a man of sound judgment and great 
piety, reported of him, that on a time an here- 
tical book, newly printed and spread abroad, was 
brought to Sir Thomas, which when he read, 
being in his boat, going from Chelsey to London, 
he shewed certain of the author's arguments 
with his finger to Mr. Harris saying : Lo here 
how the knave's argument is taken out of the 
objections of S. Thomas in 2. 2. in such and 
such an article ; but the lewd fellow might have 
seen the solutions, which are presently added 
there. He maintained also in a learned dispu- 
tation with Father Alphonsus the Franciscan, 
Queen Catherine's ghostly father, Scotus' opinion 
of attrition and contrition as more safely to be 
followed than that of Occham ; by all which it 
may be gathered, that he had great insight in the 
diversity of scholastical opinions. 

He wrote also a book in Latin against Pome- 
ran the heretic, and indeed laboured very much 
rather to reduce such men unto the catholic 


faith than to punish them for their revolt : where- 
fore in his epitaph he sayeth of himself, that he 
was to thieves, murderers and heretics grievous ; 
yet Simon Grineus, a Lutheran, boasteth in his 
translation of Proems dedicated to my grand- 
father, how courteously Sir Thomas his father 
used him when he was in England. 




HILE Sir Thomas More was chan- 
cellor of the duchy, the see of 
Rome chanced to be vacant ; and 
Cardinal Wolsey, a man of unsa- 
tiable ambition, who had crept up in the favour 
of Charles the Fifth, so that the emperor, still 
writing unto him, called him father, and the 
other called him son, hoped now, by his means, 
to attain to the popedom ; but perceiving him- 
self of that expectation frustrate and disap- 
pointed, because the emperor, in the time of 
their election, had highly commended another 
to the whole college of the cardinals, called 
Adrian, who was a Fleming, and had been 
sometime his schoolmaster, a man of rare learn- 
ing and singular virtue ; who thereupon, although 
absent and little dreaming of it, was chosen 
pope ; and then forthwith going from Spain^ 
where he was then resident, came on foot to 
Rome. Before he entered into the city, putting 


off his hose and shoes, bare-foot and bare-legged 
he passed through the streets towards his palace, 
with such humility and devotion, that all the 
people, not without cause, had him in great reve- 
rence and admiration ; but, as I said, Cardinal 
Wolsey, a man of contrary qualities, waxed there- 
with so wroth, and stomached so the emperor 
for it ever after, that he studied still how he 
might revenge himself any ways against him ; 
which, as it was the beginning of a lamentable 
tragedy, so the end thereof we cannot yet see, 
although there have been almost one hundred 
years sithence. This Wolsey, therefore, not 
ignorant of King Henry's unconstant and mu- 
table disposition, inclined to withdraw his affec- 
tions upon every light occasion from his own 
most noble, virtuous, and lawful wife, Queen 
Catherine, the emperor's own aunt, and to fix 
his amorous passions upon other women, nothing 
comparable unto her either in birth, wisdom, 
virtue, favour, or external beauty; this irreligious 
prelate meaning to make the king's lightness 
an instrument to bring about his unconscionable 
intent, endeavoured, by all the means he could, 
to allure the king to cast his fancy upon one of 
the French king's sisters ; the king being fallen 
in love already, he not suspecting any such thing, 
with the lady Anne Bullen, a woman of no nobi- 
lity, no nor so much as of any worthy fame. 


This French match he thought to plot to 
spite the emperor, because at that time there 
was great wars and mortal enmity between the 
French King and Charles the Fifth. For the 
better compassing whereof, the cardinal re- 
quested Longland, Bishop of London, who was 
the king's ghostly father, to put a scruple into 
King Henry's head, that he should, as it were 
another Saint John the Baptist, (though the case 
were nothing like,) tell his majesty that it was 
not lawful for him, like another Herod, to marry 
his brother's wife. 

And although King Henry's conscience had 
been quiet now above twenty years together, 
yet was he not unwilling to hearken thereunto ; 
but entertaining it, opened his scruples to Sir 
Thomas More, whose counsel he required herein, 
showing him certain places of Scripture, that 
somewhat seemed to serve the turn and his 
appetite ; which when Sir Thomas had se- 
riously perused, and had excused himself, say- 
ing, he was unfit to meddle with such matters, 
being one that never had professed the study of 
divinity : the king, not satisfied with this an- 
swer, knowing well his judgment to be sound in 
whatsoever he would apply himself unto, pressed 
him so sore, that in conclusion he condescended 
to his majesty's request-, being as it were a com- 
mand ; and for that the cause was of such weight 



and importance, having need of great delibera- 
tion, he besought his majesty to give him suffi- 
cient respite advisedly to consider of it; with 
which the king, very well satisfied, said that 
Tunstall and Clarke, two worthy bishops, one 
of Durham the other of Bath, with others the 
learnedest of his privy council, should be his 
coadjutors therein. 

Sir Thomas taking his leave of the king, 
went and conferred with them about those places 
of Scripture, adding thereto, for their better 
means to search out the truth, the expositions 
of the ancient fathers, and doctors of the church ; 
and at his next coming to the court, talking 
with the king about this matter, he spake thus ; 
" To deal sincerely with your majesty, neither my 
Lord of Durham, nor my Lord of Bath, though I 
know them both wise, virtuous, learned, and ho- 
nourable prelates, nor myself with the rest of your 
council, being all your grace's own servants and 
subjects, for your manifold benefits daily bestowed 
upon us so much bound unto your highness ; none 
of us, I say, nor we all together are in my judg- 
ment meet counsellors for your majesty herein; 
but if your princely disposition purpose to under- 
stand the very truth hereof, you may have such 
counsellors, as neither for respect of their own 
worldly commodity, nor fear of your princely 
authority, will be inclined to deceive you ;" and 


then he named Saint Hierome and Saint Austin, 
and divers others, both Greek and Latin fathers; 
showing him moreover, what authorities he had 
gathered out of them, that he need not have 
any further scruple thereof, and that marrying 
of a new wife, whilst his own was alive, was 
wholly repugnant to their doctrine, and the 
meaning of the Scriptures. All which, though 
King Henry did not very well like of, because it 
was disgustful to his passionate lust, yet the 
manner of Sir Thomas's discourse and collection 
was so wisely tempered by his discreet commu- 
nication, that he took them at that present in 
good part, and often had conference of them 

By which manner of Sir Thomas's counsel 
and sincere carriage, one may easily gather what 
unspotted conscience this upright man had, who 
for no hope of gain, or any fear of disgrace, 
would once swerve from the true dictamen of 
his conscience ; and if the rest of King Henry's 
council had been as backward to hinder this 
beginning of dissolution as Sir Thomas was, 
no alteration of religion had, by all likeli- 
hood, happened in England ; for from this only 
spring of King Henry's intemperance proceeded 
all the succeeding calamities, which have daily 
increased, and yet have not any hope of amend- 


All which change Sir Thomas More either 
like a very wise man foresaw long before, or 
rather like a prophet prophesied thereof to my 
uncle Roper, who on a time out of a certain joy 
began to commend to his father-in-law the happy 
estate of this realm, that had so Catholic and 
zealous a prince, that no heretic durst show his 
face ; so learned and virtuous a clergy, so grave 
and sound a nobility, such loving and obedient 
subjects, all agreeing together in one faith and 
dutifulness, as though they had, " cor unum et 
animam unam," but one heart and one soul; 
Sir Thomas thus replied again : " Truth it is 
indeed, son Roper, as you say," and going through 
all estates with his commendations of them, he 
went far beyond my uncle ; " and yet son," 
quoth he, " I pray God that some of us, as high 
as we seem to sit now upon the mountains, 
treading heretics under our feet like ants, do not 
live to see the day that we gladly would wish to 
be at league with them, to suffer them to have 
their churches quietly to themselves, so that they 
would be content to let us have ours peaceably 
to ourselves." When mine uncle Roper had 
told him many reasons why he had no cause to 
say so, " Well," said he, " I pray God some of 
us live not till that day ;" and yet showed he 
no reason for all these his speeches, whereat my 
uncle said in a rage, " By my troth, sir, it is 


very desperately spoken ; I cry God mercy," 
said my uncle,, (he used unto him that very 
word,)* by which speech Sir Thomas, per- 
ceiving him to be somewhat angry, said, mer- 
rily, " Well, son Roper, it shall not be so ; it 
shall not be so." But yet himself found the 
prediction too true ; for he lived until the fif- 
teenth year of Queen Elizabeth's reign, when he 
saw religion turned topsy turvy, and no hope 
of any amendment. 

This spirit of prophecy, no doubt, was a sign 
of God's love unto Sir Thomas, being so dear in 
his sight, that he would make him partaker of 
some part of his secrets ; but that which he 
wrought in the conversion of this his son-in-law, 
was not a sign only, but an evident demonstra- 
tion of God's great favour unto him. For when 
Mr. William Roper was a young man, he used 
austerity to himself more than discretion 
afforded; and by this means grew weary of 
the Catholic fasts and religious discipline ; and 
hearing of a new and easy way to heaven, which 
the preachers of novelties did promise to their 

* This passage is not clearly expressed, either in the MS. or 
in the printed copies. But in Roper's own work, from which 
More borrowed it, the passage stands thus : " To whom I said, 
' By my troth, sir, it is very desperately spoken.' That vile 
term, l I cry God mercy,' did I give him ; who, by these words, 
perceiving me in a fume, said merrily unto me/' &c. 


followers, he began to read diligently the books 
of heresies, which came over, and were spread 
in every place of England; insomuch, that 
being weary of auricular confession, fasting the 
lent and vigils, he grew vehement in his new 
opinions, and zealous in breaking of them to 
others ; so as that he would be always talking, 
what a ready way to heaven was now found out, 
nobody needing to sue either to saints* or other 
men's prayers; but God's ear was open still to hear, 
and his mercy ready to forgive any sinner what- 
soever, when he shall call to him by faith, which 
was only necessary to salvation ; and having 
that only, which he assured himself of, he 
needed not doubt but that he was an elect and 
saved soul, so that it was impossible for him to 
sin, or fall out of God's favour. Of this dan- 
gerous poison of security, he having drunk a 
full draught, he came on a time to Sir Thomas 
to request him, because he was highly in the 
king's favour, that he would get him a licence to 
preach what the spirit had taught him ; for he 
was assured that God had sent him to instruct 
the world ; not knowing (God wot) any reason 
of this his mission, but only his private spirit ; 
to whom Sir Thomas, in a smiling manner, 
replied, " Is it not sufficient, son Roper, that we 
that are your friends should know that you are 
a fool, but that you would have your folly pro- 


claimed to the world?" After this, he often 
disputed with him about matters of religion ; 
yet never could he bring him to hearken to any 
reason, every day seeming more obstinate than 
other, until at length he said in sober sadness, 
" I see, son, no disputation will do thee good ; 
henceforth therefore I will dispute with thee no 
more, only will I pray for thee, that God will 
be so favourable as to touch thy heart ;" and so 
committing him to God, they parted. And he 
earnestly poured out his devotions before the 
divine mercy for that intent. And behold, my 
uncle, not long after, being inspired with the 
light of grace, began to detest his heresies ; and 
as another Saint Austin, was wholly converted ; 
so that ever after he was not only a perfect Catho- 
lic, but lived and died a stout and valiant cham- 
pion thereof, whose alms in charitable uses were 
so great, that, it is said, that he bestowed every 
year, to the value of five hundred pounds, espe- 
cially in his latter days, in which he enjoyed an 
office of great gain and commodity ; and after 
his death I have heard it reported by them that 
were servants in his house, that whilst his body 
lay unburied for three or four days, there was 
heard once a day, for the space of a quarter of 
an hour, the sweetest music that could be ima- 
gined ; not of any voices of men, but angelical 


harmony, as a token how gracious that soul was 
to Almighty God,, and to the quires of angels. 

Now this was a more special favour, which 
God granted to Sir Thomas's devout prayers, 
than the raising of a dead man to life, by how 
much more the death of the soul is of more 
danger than the death of the body ; yet it is 
certain also, that this glorious man begged also 
corporal life for some of his dear friends. On a 
time his daughter Margaret, wife to this William 
Roper, fell sick of the sweating sickness, of 
which many died at that time ; who, lying in so 
great extremity of the disease, that by no inven- 
tions nor devices that any cunning physician 
coijjid use at that time, having continually about 
her the most learned, wise, and expert that 
could be gotten, she could by no means be kept 
from sleep ; so that every one about her had 
just cause to despair of her recovery, giving her 
utterly over. Her father, as he that most loved 
her, being in no small heaviness, at last sought 
for remedy of this her desperate case from God. 
Wherefore going, as his custom was, into the 
new buildings, there in his chapel, upon his knees 
most devoutly, even with many tears, besought 
Almighty God, unto whom nothing was impos- 
sible, of his goodness, if it were his blessed will, 
that at his mediation he would vouchsafe gra- 


ciously to hear this his humble petition ; where 
presently came into his mind that a glister was 
the only way to help her ; which -when he told 
the physicians, they confessed that it was the 
best remedy indeed, much marvelling at them- 
selves they had not remembered it, which was 
immediately ministered unto her sleeping, for 
else she would never have been brought to that 
kind of medicine. And although when she 
awaked thoroughly, God's marks (an evident 
and undoubted token of death) plainly appeared 
upon her, yet she, contrary to all expectation, 
was, as it were, miraculously, and by her father's 
fervent prayer, restored to perfect health again ; 
whom if it had pleased God at that time to have 
taken to his mercy, her father solemnly pro- 
tested that he would never have meddled with 
any worldly matters after ; such was his fatherly 
love and vehement affection unto his Jewell, 
who most nearly of all the rest of his phildren 
expressed her father's virtues, although the 
meanest of all the rest might have been matched 
with any other of their age in England, either 
for learning, excellent qualities, or piety, they 
having been brought up, even from their infancy 
with such care and industry, and enjoying always 
most virtuous and learned masters. 

So that the school of Sir Thomas More's 
children was famous over the whole world ; for 


that their wits were rare, their diligence extra- 
ordinary, and their masters most excellent 
men, as above the rest Doctor Clement, an 
excellent Grecian and physician, who was 
after reader of the physic-lecture in Oxford, 
and set out many books of learning. After 
him one William Gunnell, who read after with 
great praise in Cambridge; and besides these, 
one Drue, one Nicholas, and after all one Richard 
Hart, of whose rare learning and industry in 
this behalf, let us see what may be gathered out 
of Sir Thomas's letters unto them, and first to 
Mr. Gunnell thus : 

" I have received, my dear Gunnell, your 
letters, such as they are wont to be, most 
elegant and full of affection. Your love towards 
my children I gather by your letter ; their dili- 
gence by their own ; for every one of their letters 
pleaseth me very much, yet most especially I 
take joy to hear that my daughter Elizabeth 
hath showed as great modesty in her mother's 
absence, as any one could do, if she had been in 
presence ; let her know that that thing liked me 
better than all the epistles besides ; for as I 
esteem learning which is joined with virtue more 
than all the treasures of kings ; so what doth 
the fame of being a great scholar bring us, if it 
be severed from virtue other than a notorious 
and famous infamy, especially in a woman, whom 


men will be ready the more willingly to assail 
for their learning, because it is a hard matter, 
and argueth a reproach to the sluggishness of a 
man, who will not stick to lay the fault of their 
natural malice upon the quality of learning, sup- 
posing that their own unskilfulness by comparing 
it with the vices of those that are learned, shall 
be accounted for virtue : but if any woman on 
the contrary part (as I hope and wish by your 
instruction and teaching all mine will do) shall 
join many virtues of the mind with a little skill 
of learning, I shall account this more happiness 
than if they were able to attain to Croesus' 
wealth joined with the beauty of fair Helen ; 
not because they were to get great fame thereby, 
although that inseparably followeth all virtue, 
as shadow doth the body, but for that they 
should obtain by this the true reward of wisdom, 
which can never be taken away as wealth may, 
nor will fade as beauty doth, because it de- 
pendeth of truth and justice, and not of the 
blasts of men's mouths, than which nothing is 
more foolish, nothing more pernicious ; for as it 
is the duty of a good man to eschew infamy, so 
it is not only the property of a proud man, but 
also of a wretched and ridiculous man to frame 
their actions only for praise ; for that man's 
mind must needs be full of unquietness, that 
always wavers for fear of other men's judgments 


between joy and sadness. But amongst other 
the notable benefits which learning bestoweth 
upon men, I account this one of the most pro- 
fitable, that in getting of learning we look not 
for praise, to be accounted learned men, but 
only to use it in all occasions, which the best of 
all other learned men, I mean the philosophers 
those true moderators of men's actions have 
delivered unto us from hand to hand, although 
some of them have abused their sciences, aiming 
only to be accounted excellent men by the 
people. Thus have I spoken, my Gunnell, 
somewhat the more of the not coveting of vain 
glory, in regard of those words in your letter, 
whereby you judge that the high spirit of my 
daughter Margaret's wit is not to be dejected, 
wherein I am of the same opinion that you are, 
but I think (as I doubt not but you are of the 
same mind) that he doth deject his generous wit, 
whosoever accustometh himself to admire vain 
and base objects, and he raiseth well his spirits, 
that embraceth virtue and true good. They are 
base minded indeed, that esteem the shadow of 
good things (which most men greedily snatch at, 
for want of discretion to judge true good from 
apparent) rather than the truth itself. And 
therefore seeing I hold this the best way for 
them to walk in, I have not only requested you, 
my dear Gunnell, whom of yourself I know 


would have done it out of the entire affection 
you bear unto them ; neither have I desired my 
wife alone, whom her motherly piety by me often 
and many ways tried doth stir them up thereto, 
but also all other my friends I have entreated 
many times to persuade all my children to this, 
that avoiding all thegulphs and downfalls of pride, 
they walk through the pleasant meadows of mo- 
desty, that they never be enamoured of the glister- 
ing hue of gold and silver, nor lament for the 
want of those things which by error they admire 
in others, that they think no better of themselves 
for all their costly trimmings, nor any meaner 
for the want of them ; not to lessen their beauty 
by neglecting it, which they have by nature, nor 
to make it any more by unseemly art, to think 
virtue their chief happiness, learning and good 
qualities the next, of which those are especially 
to be learned, which will avail them most, that 
is to say, piety towards God, charity towards all 
men, modesty and Christian humility in them- 
selves, by which they shall reap from God the 
reward of an innocent life, by certain confidence 
thereof they shall not need to fear death, and in 
the mean while enjoying true alacrity, they shall 
neither be puffed up with the vain praises of 
men, nor dejected by any slander of disgrace ; 
these I esteem the true and solid fruits of learn- 
ing ; which as they happen not I confess to all 


that are learned, so those may easily attain them, 
who begin to study with this intent ; neither is 
there any difference in harvest time, whether he 
was man or woman, that sowed first the corn ; 
for both of them bear name of a reasonable crea- 
ture equally, whose nature reason only doth dis- 
tinguish from brute beasts, and therefore I do not 
see why learning in like manner may not equally 
agree with both sexes ; for by it, reason is culti- 
vated, and (as a field) sowed with the wholesome 
seed of good precepts, it bringeth forth excellent 
fruit. But if the soil of woman's brain be of its 
own nature bad, and apter to bear fern than corn 
(by which saying many do terrify women from 
learning) I am of opinion therefore that a 
woman's wit is the more diligently by good 
instructions and learning to be manured, to the 
nd, the defect of nature may be redressed by 
industry. Of which mind were also many wise 
and holy ancient fathers, as, to omit others, 
S. Hierome and S. Augustine, who not only ex- 
horted many noble matrons and honourable 
virgins to the getting of learning, but also to 
further them therein, they diligently expounded 
unto them many hard places of Scriptures ; yea 
wrote many letters unto tender maids, full of so 
great learning, that scarcely our old and greatest 
professors of divinity can well read them, much 
less be able to understand them perfectly ; which 


holy saints' works you will endeavour, my learned 
Gunnell, of your courtesy, that my daughters 
may learn, whereby they may chiefly know, what 
end, they ought to have in their learning, to 
place the fruits of their labours in God, and a true 
conscience ; by which it will be easily brought to 
pass, that being at peace within themselves, they 
shall neither be moved with praise of flatterers, 
nor the nipping follies of unlearned scoffers. 
But methinks I hear you reply, that though these 
my precepts be true, yet are they too strong 
and hard for the tender age of my young 
wenches to hearken to : for what man, be he 
never so aged or expert in any science, is so con- 
stant or staid, that he is not a little stirred up with 
the tickling vanity of glory ? And for my part, I 
esteem that the harder it is to shake from us this 
plague of pride, so much the more ought every 
one to endeavour to do it from his very infancy. 
And I think there is no other cause, why this 
almost inevitable mischief doth stick so fast in 
our breasts, but for that it is ingrafted in our 
tender minds even by our nurses, as soon as we 
are crept out of our shells ; it is fostered by our 
masters, it is nourished and perfected by our 
parents, whilst that no body propoundeth any 
good thing to children, but they presently bid 
them expect praise as the whole reward of virtue ; 
whence it is, that they are so much accustomed 


to esteem much of honour and praise, that by 
seeking to please the most, who are always the 
worst, they are still ashamed to be good with the 
fewest. That this plague may the farther be 
banished from my children, I earnestly desire, 
that you, my dear Gunnell, their mother and all 
their friends, would still sing this song unto 
them, hammer it always in their heads, and in- 
culcate it unto them upon all occasions, that 
vain glory is abject, and to be despised, neither 
any thing to be more worthy or excellent, than 
that humble modesty, which is so much praised 
by Christ ; the which prudent charity will so 
guide and direct, that it will teach us to desire 
virtue rather than to upbraid others for their 
vices, and will procure rather to love them who 
admonish us of our faults, than hate them for 
their wholesome counsel. To the obtaining 
whereof nothing is more available, than to read 
unto them the wholesome precepts of the fathers, 
whom they know not to be angry with them, 
and they must needs be vehemently moved with 
their authorities, because they are venerable for 
their sanctity. If therefore you read any such 
thing unto Margaret and Elizabeth besides their 
lessons in Sallust, for they are of riper judgment, 
by reason of their age, than John and Cecily, 
you shall make both me and them every day 
more bound unto you ; moreover you shall 


hereby procure my children being dear by 
nature, after this more dear for learning, but 
by their increase of good manners most dear 
unto me. Farewell. From the Court this 

Another epistle of Sir Thomas More to his 

" Thomas More to his whole school sendeth 
greeting :- 

" Behold how I have found out a compen- 
dious way to salute you all, and make spare of 
time and paper, which I must needs have wasted 
in saluting every one of you particularly by 
your names, which would be very superfluous, 
because you are all so dear unto me, some in 
one respect, some in another, that I can omit 
none of you unsaluted. Yet I know not, whether 
there can be any better motive why I should 
love you than because you are scholars, learning 
seeming to bind me more straitly unto you, than 
the nearness of blood. I rejoice therefore that 
Mr. Drue is returned safe, of whose safety you 
know I was careful. If I loved you not exceed- 
ingly, I should envy this your so great happi- 
ness, to have had so many great scholars for 
your masters. For I think Mr. Nicolas is with 
you also, and that you have learned of him 
much astronomy ; so that I hear you have 
proceeded so far in this science, that you now 


know not only the pole-star or dog, and such 
like of the common constellations, but also 
(which argueth an absolute and cunning astro- 
nomer,) in the chief planets themselves, you 
are able to discern the sun from the moon. Go 
forward therefore with this your new and admi- 
rable skill, by which you do thus climb up to the 
stars, which whilst you daily admire, in the mean 
while I admonish you also to think of this holy 
fast of Lent, and let that excellent and pious 
song of Boethius* sound in your ears, whereby 
you are taught also with your minds to pene- 
trate heaven, lest when the body is lifted up on 
high, the soul be driven down to the earth with 
the brute beasts. Farewell. From the Court 
this 23rd of March." 


" Thomas More to his best beloved Children, 
and to Margaret Giggs, whom he numbereth 
amongst his own, sendeth greeting : 

* Boethius was a favourite author in the More family. In 
one of the paintings of the family his work is introduced. 
The particular song to which Sir Thomas alludes is probably 
the first of the fourth book : 

" Sunt enim pennae volucres mihi 
Quee celsa conscendant poli : 
Quas sibi cum velox mens induit 

Terras perosa despicit, 
Aeris immensi superat globum 

Nubesque post tergum videt," &e. 


" The merchant of Bristow brought unto me 
your letters the next day after he had received 
them of you, with the which I was exceedingly 
delighted. For there can come nothing, yea 
though it were never so rude, never so meanly 
polished, from this your shop, but it procureth 
me more delight than any other's works, be they 
never so eloquent ; your writing doth so stir up 
my affection towards you; but excluding this, 
your letters may also very well please me for 
their own worth, being full of fine wit. and of a 
pure Latin phrase : therefore none of them all, 
but joyed me exceedingly; yet to tell you ingenu- 
ously what I think, my son John's letter pleased 
me best, both because it was longer than the 
other, as also for that he seemeth to have taken 
more pains than the rest. For he not only 
painteth out the matter decently, and speaketh 
elegantly, but he playeth also pleasantly with 
me, and returneth my jests upon me again very 
wittily; and this he doth not only pleasantly, 
but temperately withal, shewing that he is mind- 
ful with whom he jesteth, to wit, his father, 
whom he endeavoureth so to delight, that he is 
also afeared to offend. Hereafter I expect every 
day letters from every one of you ; neither will 
I accept of such excuses, as you complain of, 
that you had no leisure, or that the carrier went 
away suddenly, or that you have no matter to 


write ; John is not wont to alledge any such 
things ; nothing can hinder you from writing, 
but many things may exhort you thereto ; why 
should you lay any fault upon the carrier, seeing 
you may prevent his coming, and have them 
ready made up, and sealed two days before any 
offer themselves to carry them. And how can 
you want matter of writing unto me, who am 
delighted to hear either of your studies, or of 
your play : whom you may even then please 
exceedingly, when having nothing to write of, 
you write as largely as you can of that nothing, 
than which nothing is more easy for you to do, 
especially being women, and therefore prattlers 
by nature, and amongst whom daily a great 
story riseth of nothing. But this I admonish 
you to do, that whether you write of serious 
matters, or of trifles, you write with diligence 
and consideration, premeditating of it before ; 
neither will it be amiss, if you first indite it in 
English, for then it may more easily be trans- 
lated into Latin, whilst the mind free from 
inventing is attentive to find apt and eloquent 
words. And although I put this to your choice, 
whether you will do so or no, yet I enjoin you 
by all means, that you diligently examine what 
you have written, before you write it over fair 
again; first considering attentively the whole 
sentence, and after examine every part thereof, 


by which means you may easily find out, if any 
solecisms have escaped you; which being put 
out, and your letter written fair, yet then let it 
not also trouble you to examine it over again ; 
for sometimes the same faults creep in at the 
second writing, which you before had blotted 
out. By this your diligence you will procure, 
that those your trifles will seem serious matters. 
For as nothing is so pleasing but may be made 
unsavory by prating garrulity ; so nothing is by 
nature so unpleasant, that by industry may not 
be made full of grace and pleasantness. Fare- 
well my sweetest children. From the Court this 
3rd of September." 

Another letter to his daughter Margaret 
only : 

" Thy letters (dearest Margaret) were grate- 
ful unto me, which certified me of the state of 
Shaw ; yet would they have been more grateful 
unto me, if they had told me, what your and 
your brother's studies were, what is read amongst 
you every day, how pleasantly you confer toge- 
ther, what themes you make, and how you pass 
the day away amongst you in the sweet fruits of 
learning. And although nothing is written from 
you, but it is most pleasing unto me, yet those 
things are most sugared sweet, which I cannot 
learn of but by you or your brother." And in 
the end : " I pray thee, Meg, see that I under- 


stand by you, what your studies are. For rather 
than I would suffer you, my children, to live 
idly, I would myself look unto you, with the 
loss of my temporal estate, bidding all other 
cares and businesses farewell, amongst which 
there is nothing more sweet unto me than thy- 
self, my dearest daughter. Farewell." s 

It seemeth also by another letter of his, how 
careful he was that his children might be learned 
and diligent, and he praiseth them for it thus : 

" Thomas More sendeth greeting to his most 
dear daughters Margaret, Elizabeth and Cecily ; 
and to Margaret Giggs as dear to him as if she 
were his own. I cannot sufficiently express, my 
best beloved wenches, how your eloquent letters 
have exceedingly pleased me ; and this is not 
the least cause that I understand by them, you 
have not in your journeys, though you change 
places often, omitted any thing of your custom 
of exercising yourselves, either in making of 
declamations, composing of verses, or in your 
logick exercises ; by this I persuade myself, that 
you dearly love me, because I see you have so 
great a care to please me by your diligence in 
my absence as to perform these things, which 
you know how grateful they are unto me in my 
presence. And as I find this your mind and 
affection so much to delight me, so will I procure 
that my return shall be profitable unto you. 


And persuade yourselves that there is nothing 
amongst these my troublesome and careful 
affairs that recreateth me so much, as when I 
read somewhat of your labours, by which I 
understand those things to be true , which your 
most loving master writeth so lovingly of you, 
that unless your own epistles did show evidently 
unto me, how earnest your desire is towards 
learning, I should have judged that he had rather 
written of affection than according to the truth : 
but now by these that you write, you make him 
to be believed, and me to imagine those things 
to be true of your witty and acute disputations, 
which he boasteth of you almost above all 
belief; I am therefore marvellous desirous to 
come home, that we may hear them, and set our 
scholar to dispute with you, who is slow to 
believe, yea out of all hope or conceit to find 
you able to be answerable to your master's 
praises. But I hope, knowing how steadfast you 
are in your affections, that you will shortly over- 
come your master, if not in disputing, at least 
in not leaving of your strife. Farewell, dear 

And thus you may conjecture how learned 
his daughters were ; to whom, for this respect, 
Erasmus dedicated his Commentary upon Ovid 
" de Nuce." Lewis Vives also writeth great -com- 
mendations of this school of Sir Thomas More's 


in his book to Queen Catherine of England.* 
And both Erasmus dedicated Aristotle in Greek, 
and Simon Grineus, who, although an heretic, 
yet in respect of his learning, had been kindly 
used by Sir Thomas More, as he writeth himself, 
did dedicate Plato, and other books in Greek, 
unto my grandfather, John More, as to one that 
was also very skilful in that tongue. See what 
Grineus speaketh unto him : " There was a 
great necessity why I should dedicate these 
books of Proclus (full of marvellous learning, 
by my pains set out, but not without the singu- 
lar benefit of your father effected,) unto you, to 
whom by reason of your fatherlike virtues all the 
fruit of this benefit is to redound, both because 
you may be an ornament unto them, and they 
also may do great good unto you, whom I know 
to be learned, and for these grave disputations 
sufficiently provided and made fit by the conti- 
nual conversation of so worthy a father, and by 
the company of your sisters, who are most ex- 
pert in all kind of sciences. For what author 
can be more grateful to those desirous minds of 
most goodly things, such as you and the muses 
your sisters are, whom a divine heat of spirit to the 
admiration and a new example of this our age, 

* " De Institutione Feminae Christianse : Libri iii." Bruges 


hath driven into the sea of learning so far, and 
so happily, that they see no learning to be above 
their reach, no disputations of philosophy above 
their capacity. And none can better explicate 
entangled questions, none sift them more pro- 
foundly, nor conceive them more easily, than 
this author." 

Let us see another letter to his daughter 
Margaret. " You ask money, dear Meg, too 
shamefully and fearfully of your father, who is 
both desirous to give it you, and your letter 
hath deserved it, which I could find in my heart 
to recompence, not as Alexander did by Che- 
rilus, giving him for every verse a Philippine of 
gold ; but if my ability were answerable to my 
will, I would bestow two crowns of pure gold 
for every syllable thereof. Here I send you as 
much as you requested, being willing to have 
sent you more ; but that as I am glad to give, so 
I am desirous to be asked and fawned on by my 
daughters, thee especially, whom virtue and 
learning hath made most dear unto me. Where- 
fore the sooner you have spent this money well, 
as you are wont to do, and the sooner you ask 
me for more, the sooner know you will do your 
father a singular pleasure. Farewell, my most 
beloved daughter." 

This daughter was likest her father, as well 
in favour as wit, and proved a most rare woman 


for learning, sanctity, and secrecy, and therefore 
he trusted her with all his secrets. She wrote 
two declamations in English, which her father 
and she turned into Latin so elegantly, as one 
could hardly judge which was the best. She 
made also a treatise of the Four Last Things ; 
which her father sincerely protested that it was 
better than his, and therefore, it may be, never 
finished his. She corrected by her wit a place 
in Saint Cyprian corrupted, as Pamelian and 
John Coster testify, instead of " nisi vos since- 
ritatis," restoring " nervos sinceritatis."* To 
her Erasmus wrote an epistle, as to a woman 
not only famous for manners and virtue, but 
most of all for learning. We have heretofore 
made mention of her letter that Cardinal Pole 
so liked, that when he had read it, he would not 
believe it could be any woman's ; in answer 
whereof Sir Thomas did send her the letter, 
some part whereof we have seen before ; the 
rest is this, which though there were no other 
testimony of her extraordinary learning, might 
suffice : " In the mean time," saith her father, 
" I thought with myself how true I found that 

* For Pamelian, read Pamelius. The passage referred to 
is in his notes upon the thirty-first Epistle of Saint Cyprian, 
See also Costerius's Observations upon the Commonitory of 
Vincentius Lerinensis, p. 47. This note is from the edition 
of 1726. 


now, which once I remember I spoke unto you 
in jest, when I pitied your hard hap, that men 
that read your writings would suspect you to 
have had help of some other man therein, which 
would derogate somewhat from the praises due 
to your works ; seeing that you of all others 
deserve least to have such a suspicion had of 
you, or that you never could abide to be decked 
with the plumes of other birds. But you, sweet 
Meg, are rather to be praised for this, that 
seeing you cannot hope for condign praise of 
your labours ; yet for all this you go forward 
with this your invincible courage, to join with 
your virtue the knowledge of most excellent 
sciences, and contenting yourself with your own 
pleasure in learning, you never hunt after vulgar 
praises, nor receive them willingly, though they 
be offered you. And for your singular piety 
and love towards me, you esteem me and your 
husband a sufficient and ample theatre for you 
to content you with ; who, in requital of this 
your affection, beseech God and our Lady, with 
as hearty prayers as possible we can pour out, 
to give you an easy and happy childbirth, to 
increase your family with a child most like your- 
self, except only in sex ; yet if it be a wench, 
that it may be such a one as would, in time, 
recompence by imitation of her mother's learn- 


ing and virtues, what by the condition of her 
sex may be wanting ; such a wench I should 
prefer before three boys. Farewell, dearest 

But see, I pray you, how a most learned 
bishop in England was ravished with her learn- 
ing and wit, as it appeareth by a letter, which 
her father wrote unto her to certify her thereof. 
" Thomas More sendeth hearty greeting to his 
dearest daughter Margaret : I will let pass to 
tell you, my sweetest daughter, how much your 
letter delighted me ; you may imagine how 
exceedingly it pleased your father, when 
you understand what affection the reading of 
of it raised in a stranger. It happened me this 
evening to sit with John, Lord Bishop of Exeter, 
a learned man, and by all men's judgment, a 
most sincere man. As we were talking toge- 
ther, and I taking out of my pocket a paper, 
which was to the purpose we were talking of, 
I pulled out, by chance, therewith your letter. 
The handwriting pleasing him, he took it from 
me and looked on it ; when he perceived it by 
the salutation to be a woman's, he began more 
greedily to read it, novelty inviting him there- 
unto ; but when he had read it, and understood 
that it was your writing, which he never could 
have believed if I had not seriously affirmed it ; 


' such a letter' I will say no more yet why 
should not I report that which he said unto me 
' So pure a style, so good Latin, so eloquent, so 
full of sweet affections' he was marvellously 
ravished with it. When I perceived that, I 
brought forth also an oration of your's, which 
he reading, and also many of your verses, he 
was so moved with the matter so unlocked for, 
that the very countenance and gesture of the 
man, free from all flattery and deceit, betrayed 
that his mind was more than his words could 
utter, although he uttered many to your great 
praise ; and forthwith he drew out of his pocket 
a portegue, which you shall receive inclosed 
herein. I could not possibly shun the taking 
of it, but he would needs send it unto you, as a 
sign of his dear affection towards you, although 
by all means I endeavoured to give it him again ; 
which was the cause I showed him none of your 
other sister's works ; for I was afraid lest I should 
have been thought to have showed them of 
purpose, because he should bestow the like 
courtesy upon them ; for it troubled me sore, 
that I must needs take this of him ; but he is so 
worthy a man, as I have said, that it is a happi- 
ness to please him thus. Write carefully unto 
him, and as eloquently as you are able, to give 
him thanks therefore. Farewell. From the 


court, this llth of September, even almost at 

She made an oration to answer Quintilian, 
defending that rich man which he accused for 
having poisoned a poor man's bees, with certain 
venomous flowers in his garden, so eloquent and 
witty, that it may strive with his. She translated 
Eusebius out of Greek, but it was never printed, 
because Christopherson at that time had done 
it exactly before. s Yet one other letter will I 
set down of Sir Thomas to this his daughter, 
which is thus : " Thomas More sendeth greeting 
to his dearest daughter Margaret. There was 
no reason, my dearest daughter, why thou 
shouldst have deferred thy writing unto me one 
day longer, for fear that thy letters being so 
barren, should not be read of me without loath- 
ing. For though they had not been most cu- 
rious, yet in respect of thy sex, thou mightest 
have been pardoned by any man ; yea, even a 
blemish in the child's face, seemeth often to a 
father beautiful. But these your letters, Meg, 
were so eloquently polished, that they had 
nothing in them, not only why they should fear 
the most indulgent affection of your father More, 
but also they needed not to have regarded even 
Momus's censure, though never so testy. I 
greatly thank Mr. Nicolas, our dear friend (a 


most expert man in astronomy), and do congra- 
tulate your happiness, whom it may fortune 
within the space of one month, with a small 
labour of your own, to learn so many and such 
high wonders of that mighty and eternal work- 
man, which were not found but in many ages,, 
by watching in so many cold nights under the 
open skies, with much labour and pains, by such 
excellent, and, above all other men's understand- 
ing wits. This which you write pleaseth me 
exceedingly, that you had determined with your- 
self to study philosophy so diligently, that you 
will hereafter recompence by your diligence, 
what your negligence hath heretofore lost you. 
I love you for this, dear Meg, that whereas I 
never have found you to be a loiterer (your 
learning, which is not ordinary, but in all kind 
of sciences most excellent, evidently shewing 
how painfully you have proceeded therein), yet 
such is your modesty, that you had rather still 
accuse yourself of negligence than vainly boast 
of diligence ; except you mean by this your 
speech that you will be hereafter so diligent, 
that your former endeavours, though indeed 
they were great and praiseworthy, yet in respect 
of your future diligence, may be called negli- 
gence. If it be so that you mean (as I do verily 
think you do), I imagine nothing can happen to 
me more fortunate, nothing to you, my dearest 


daughter, more happy ; for, as I have earnestly 
wished that you might spend the remainder of 
your life in studying physic and holy Scriptures, 
by the which there shall never be he^s wanting 
unto you, for the end of man's life ; which is to 
endeavour that a sound mind be in a healthful 
body, of which studies you have already laid 
some foundations, and you shall never want 
matter to build thereupon ; so now I think that 
some of the first years of your youth, yet flourish- 
ing, may be very well bestowed in human learn- 
ing and the liberal arts, both because your age 
may best struggle with those difficulties, and for 
that it is uncertain whether, at any time else, 
we shall have the commodity of so careful, so 
loving, and so learned a master ; to let pass, 
that by this kind of learning our judgments are 
either gotten, or certainly much helped thereby. 
I could wish, dear Meg, that I might talk with 
you a long while about these matters, but behold, 
they which bring in supper interrupt me, and 
call me away. My supper cannot be so sweet 
unto me as this my speech with you is, if I were 
not to respect others more than myself. Fare- 
well, dearest daughter, and commend me kindly 
to your husband, my loving son, who maketh 
me rejoice for that he studieth the same things 
you do ; and whereas I am wont always to 
counsel you to give place to your husband, now 


on the other side, I give you licence to strive to 
master him in the knowledge of the sphere. 
Farewell again and again. Commend me to all 
your schoolfellows, but to your master espe- 
cially." And having, upon this occasion of 
speaking of Sir Thomas's children, how tenderly 
he loved them, how earnestly he sought to make 
them scholars, and with their scholarship to have 
them join virtue, made somewhat a longer 
digression than I thought ; we will return as we 
had begun, to speak of the alteration of religion 
in our country, and how thereupon Sir Thomas 
More fell into trouble.* 

* This last clause from " And having upon this occasion, 
&c." is wanting in the manuscript. 




HILST this unlucky divepce was 
so hotly pursued by ttte king, it 
happened that my uncle Roper, 
walking with his father along by 
the Thames side, near Chelsey, amongst other 
talk, Sir Thomas said, " Now, would to our 
Lord, son Roper, that upon condition three 
things were established in Christendom, I were 
put into a sack, and here presently cast into the 
Thames." " What great things are those, good 
Sir," said he, " that should move you so to 
wish?" '' Wouldst thou know them, son 
Roper ?" " Yea, marry, Sir, with a good will," 
said he, " if it would please you." " In faith, 
son, they be these : First, that where "the most 
part of Christian princes be at mortal war, they 
were at an universal peace. Secondly, whereas 
the church of Christ is at this time sore afflicted 
with many errors and heresies, it were settled 
in a perfect uniformity of religion. Thirdly, 
that whereas the matter of the king's marriage 
is come in question, it were to the glory of God, 


and quietness of all parties, brought to a good 
conclusion." Whereby one might well gather 
that otherwise he judged this would be a distur- 
bance to a great part of Christendom. The first 
he saw in some sort granted him by his means ; 
the other two are this day to be seen, what 
tragedies they have raised in England and 

Thus did he by his words and deeds, show 
throughout the whole course of his life, that 
all his thoughts, travails, and pains> were only 
for the honour of God, without respect either 
of his own glory, or of any earthly commo- 
dity ; for it may be seen by many -things, as 
well deeds as letters, how much he contemned 
the honours which were heaped upon him 
daily by his prince's especial bounty and favour 
towards him, and my uncle Roper testifieth from 
his own mouth, in his latter days, that he pro- 
fessed unto him, that he never asked of the king, 
for himself, the value of one penny. The like 
may be said of his contempt of riches and 
worldly wealth; but a fitter place to speak 
thereof may be had hereafter. All which excel- 
lent endowments of his mind proceeded, no 
doubt, from his confidence in God, and his 
godly exercises to attain to perfection and all 

He built a chapel in his parish church at 


Chelsey, where the parish had all ornaments 
belonging thereunto abundantly supplied at his 
charge, and he bestowed thereon much plate, 
often speaking those words : Good men give it 
and bad men take it away. 

A little before he was preferred to the dignity 
of chancellorship, there were questions pro- 
pounded to many, whether the king in the case 
of his first marriage needed have any scruple 
at all ; and if he had, what way were best to de- 
liver him from it. The most part of his council 
were of opinion, that there was good cause 
of scruple, because Queen Catherine was mar- 
ried before to Prince Arthur, King Henry's elder 
brother ; wherefore she was not to be wife to 
two brothers ; and therefore to ease the king's 
mind, suit was to be made to the pope and the 
see of Rome, where the king hoped by liberal 
gifts to obtain what he desired ; but in this, as 
after it appeared, he was far deceived. 

After this there was a commission procured 
from Rome for trial and examination of this 
marriage ; in which the Cardinals Wolsey and 
Campegius, were joined together ; who for the 
determination hereof sate at the Black Friars in 
London. A libel was put in for the annulling 
of the former matrimony, alleging that that 
marriage was utterly unlawful ; but on the other 
side for proof that it was lawful and good, a dis- 


pensation was brought forth, which was of very 
good force as touching the power which the pope 
had to dispense in a law that was neither con- 
trary to God's positive law in the Old Testament, 
but rather agreeable thereto, nor to the law of 
nature ; and it is commanded in Leviticus, that 
if the brother died without issue, the next in 
kindred to him should be in a manner enforced to 
marry his wife. But there was found an imper- 
fection in the dispensation ; yet that same was 
lawfully supplied by a public instrument or brief 
found in the treasury of Spain, which was sent 
immediately to the commissioners in England, 
and so should judgment have been given by the 
pope accordingly, that the first marriage stood 
in force, had not King Henry upon intelligence 
thereof, before the judgment was pronounced, 
appealed to the next general council. " Hinc 
illse lachrymae ;" hence came the deadly enmity 
between the king and the pope ; hence proceeded 
that bitterness of King Henry, that he com- 
manded none should appeal to Rome, nor none 
should so much as go thither ; no bishops nor 
spiritual men should have any bulls or authority 
from thence; all spiritual jurisdiction began now, 
never before thought of, to be invested from God 
immediately upon the imperial crown of Eng- 
land ; but this not all at once : yea, he grew 
afterwards unto such height of malice, that he 
caused the name of the pope to be razed out of 


every book that could be found either printed or 
written. He caused St. Thomas of Canterbury 
to be attainted of high treason after he had been 
three hundred years accounted a blessed martyr 
of the whole church ; yea so acknowledged by 
King Henry the Second, who was the cause of 
his death ; but this king most barbarously cast his 
sacred bones out of his renowned shrine, after 
numbers of miracles, and caused them to be 
burnt. This was the strange pass King Henry 
was brought unto doting onAnneBullen, though, 
God knows, she had no qualities wherefore he 
should so dote on her, as appeared evidently 
when for foul matters he after a short time cut 
off her head, and proclaimed himself in open par- 
liament to be a cuckold ; which no doubt he never 
had been, if he had kept himself to his first 
virtuous wife Queen Catherine ; but all these 
things happened a good while after, and many 
other extreme violences and ensuing miseries, 
as we may see and feel. 

Whilst those things were a doing, as is before 
said, about the king's divorce, and nothing yet 
brought to any conclusion,* the king sent Tunstal, 

* The manuscript here varies remarkably from the printed 
copy. " When the imperfection of the dispensation was 
supplied, the king seemed to take the matter as ended, and 
meaning no farther to proceed, he assigned Tunstal, bishop 
of Durham, and Sir Thomas More, to go embassadors to 


bishop of Durham, and Sir Thomas More, 
ambassadors to Cambray, to treat of a peace 
between him, the French king, and Charles 
the emperor: in which journey Sir Thomas so 
worthily behaved himself that he procured in 
our league with the said princes far more bene- 
fits to our realm than at that time was thought 
possible by the king and all his council ; inso- 
much that his majesty caused it afterwards 
openly to be declared to the people, when he 
was made chancellor, how much all England was 
bound to Sir Thomas More. And now at his 
return the king again was very earnest with him 
to have him agree to his second marriage ; for 
which cause also it is thought, and Cardinal 
Pole testifieth it in a letter, he made him the ra- 
ther his lord chancellor ; telling him, that though 
the dispensation was good in respect of the laws 
of the church, yet now- it was found out to have 
been against the law of nature, in which no dis- 
pensation could be had, as Doctor Stokeley, 
(whom for that quirk found out he had lately 
preferred to the bishoprick of London,) was able 
to instruct him, with whom he willed Sir Thomas 
to confer in that point. But for all the con- 
ferences he could have with him, Sir Thomas 
could no way induce himself to change his 
former opinion therein. Yet the bishop relating 
to the king their conference, so favourably re- 
ported of Sir Thomas More's carriage therein, 


that he said, he found him very toward and 
desirous to find out good matter, whereby he 
might truly serve his grace to his contentment, 
but yet he could not. 

This bishop having been lately by the car- 
dinal in the Star-chamber openly disgraced and 
awarded to the Fleet, not brooking this con- 
tumely, sought by all means to wreak his anger 
against the cardinal : and picked a quarrel at 
him to the king, because he began to wax cold in 
the divorce. For so it was, that Wolsey was sent 
over into France to treat of a marriage between 
King Henry and the king of France's sister : and 
finding their favourable acceptance, it was likely 
to come to that issue, which he hoped for. Yet 
God so wrought to cross him, that this very 
invention, which he had first plotted to revenge 
himself on Charles the emperor, the same was 
the pit wherein he fell, and whereby all his dig- 
nity, credit, and wealth was taken away ; so that 
of him it may be well be said : " incidit in foveam 
quam fecit." For whilst he was contriving for 
the king a marriage in France, the king himself 
little to his knowledge had knit the knot in 
England with a mean woman in respect of a 
prince, a private knight's daughter, and of meaner 
conditions than any gentlewoman of worth. 

Wherefore when Wolsey upon his return found 
his embassage crossed, he began to repine at the 
king for disgracing him so much, and now wished 


that he had never began to put such scruples 
into Long-land's head ; which Stokeley soon find- 
ing, and himself having devised a new knot in a 
rush, to bring the king in better liking of himself 
for his forwardness,, and into more dislike of the 
cardinal, so wrought with his majesty, that he 
sent for the cardinal back, being now on his way 
gone to be installed in the archbishoprick of 
York : so that by Sir William Kingston he was 
arrested of high treason, having confiscated all 
his goods before, so that he that had been one of 
the greatest prelates of Christendom, had not 
now one dish to be served in at the table ; who 
if he had loved God half so well as he adored 
his prince, could never have come to such 
misery ; for that he died either with sorrow or 
poison shortly after. 

But the king caused in his place of chan- 
cellor Sir Thomas More to be placed, that with 
that bait (saith Cardinal Pole,) corrupted, he 
might the more easily be brought to the bent of 
the king's bow ; who behaved himself so excel- 
lently in that place as one may say, that none 
ever before him did better ; although he was the 
first lay-man that ever possessed that room, as 
Cardinal Pole noteth ; yea Wolsey himself 
hearing that Sir Thomas More should have it, 
though he was very loath to lose it himself, and 
withal bore Sir Thomas no more good will than 


needs he must,* yet professed he to many, that 
he thought none in England more worthy of it 
than Sir Thomas ; such was his fame, that none 
could envy it, though it were never so unaccus- 
tomed a case. 

The manner how Sir Thomas More was 
installed in this high office, how the king did 
extraordinarily grace him therein, and how 
modestly notwithstanding he accepted thereof, 
is very remarkable. For being led between the 
Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk through West- 
minster Hall up to the Star-chamber, and there 
honourably placed in the high judgment seat of 
chancellor, the Duke of Norfolk, who was the chief 
peer and lord treasurer of England, by the king's 
order, spoke thus unto the people, there with 
great applause and joy gathered together : 
"The king's majesty (which I pray God may 
prove happy and fortunate to the whole realm 
of England) hath raised to the most high dignity 
of chancellorship, Sir Thomas More, a man for 
his extraordinary worth and sufficiency well- 
known to himself and the whole realm, for no 

* This clause is wanting in the manuscript, and the ac- 
count which follows of the manner in which Sir Thomas More 
was installed in his office of Chancellor, is related in the 
manuscript with less particularity than in the printed text, 
which has here been followed. In the speeches of the Duke 
of Norfolk and Sir Thomas More the printed text has been 
used with very trifling departures from it. 


other cause or earthly respect, but for that he 
hath plainly perceived all the gifts of nature and 
grace to be heaped upon him, which either the 
people could desire, or himself wish for the dis- 
charge of so great an office. For the admirable 
wisdom, integrity and innocency, joined with 
most pleasant facility of wit, that this man is 
endued withal, have been sufficiently known to 
all Englishmen from his youth, and for these 
many years also to the king's majesty himself. 
This hath the king abundantly found in many 
and weighty affairs, which he hath happily dis- 
patched both at home and abroad ; in divers 
offices, which he hath borne in most honourable 
embassages, which he hath undergone, and in 
his daily counsel and advises upon all other 
occasions. He hath perceived no man in his 
realm to be more wise in deliberating, more 
sincere in opening to him what he thought, nor 
more eloquent to adorn the matter which he 
uttered. Wherefore because he saw in him such 
excellent endowments, and that of his especial 
care he hath a particular desire that his kingdom 
and people might be governed with all equity 
and justice, integrity and wisdom : he of his own 
most gracious disposition hath created this sin- 
gular man lord chancellor ; that by his laudable 
performance of this office, his people may enjoy 
peace and justice, and honour also and fame may 
redound to the whole kingdom. It may per- 


haps seem to many a strange and unusual 
matter, that this dignity should be bestowed 
upon a lay-man, none of the nobility, and one 
that hath wife and children ; because heretofore 
none but singular learned prelates, or men of 
greatest nobility, have possessed this place ; but 
what is wanting in these respects, the admirable 
virtues, the matchless gifts of wit and wisdom 
of this man, doth most plentifully recompense 
the same. For the king's majesty hath not 
regarded how great, but what a man he was ; 
he hath not cast his eyes upon the nobility of 
his blood, but on the worth of his person ; he 
hath respected his sufficiency, not his profession ; 
finally he would show by this his choice, that 
he hath some rare subjects amongst the gen- 
tlemen and lay-men, who deserve to manage 
the highest offices of the realm, which bishops 
and noblemen think they only can deserve : 
which the rarer it is, so much he thought it 
would be to you the more acceptable, and to 
the whole kingdom most grateful. Wherefore 
receive this your chancellor with joyful accla- 
mations, at whose hands you may expect all 
happiness and content." 

Sir Thomas More according to his wonted 
modesty was somewhat abashed at this the 
duke's speech, in that it sounded so much to his 
praise ; but recollecting himself as that place 
and time would give him leave, he answered in 


this sort : " Although, most noble duke, and 
you right honourable lords, and worshipful gen. 
tlemen, I know all these things which the king's 
majesty, it seemeth, hath been pleased should be 
spoken of me at this time and place, and your 
grace hath, with most eloquent words thus am- 
plified, are as far from me as I could wish with 
all my heart they were in me for the better per- 
formance of so great a charge : and although 
this your speech hath caused in me greater fear 
than I can well express in words, yet this incom- 
parable favour of my dread sovereign, by which he 
showeth how well, yea how highly he conceiveth 
of my weakness, having commanded that my 
meanness should be so greatly commended, can- 
not be but most acceptable unto me ; and I 
cannot chuse but give your most noble grace 
exceeding thanks, that what his majesty hath 
willed you briefly to utter, you of the abundance 
of your love unto me, have, in a large and elo- 
quent oration, dilated. As for myself, I can 
take it no otherwise but that his majesty's in- 
comparable favour towards me, the good will 
and incredible propension of his royal mind 
(wherewith he hath these many years favoured 
me continually,) hath alone, without any desert 
of mine at all, caused both this my new honour, 
and these your undeserved commendations of 
me ; for who am I, or what is the house of my 
father, that the king's highness should heap upon 


me, by such a perpetual stream of affection, 
these so high honours ? I am far less than any 
the meanest of his benefits bestowed on me ; 
how can I then think myself worthy or fit for 
this so peerless dignity ? I have been drawn by 
force, as the king's majesty often professeth, to 
his highness's service, to be a courtier ; but to 
take this dignity upon me, is most of all against 
my will ; yet such is his highness's benignity, 
such is his bounty, that he highly esteemeth the 
small dutifulness of his meanest subjects, and 
seeketh still magnificently to recompense his 
servants ; not only such as deserve well, but 
even such as have but a desire to deserve 
well at his hands. In which number I 
have always wished myself to be reckoned, 
because I cannot challenge myself to be one of 
the former ; which being so, you may all per- 
ceive with me, how great a burden is laid upon 
my back, in that I must strive in some sort 
with my diligence and duty to correspond with 
his royal benevolence, and to be answerable to 
that great expectation which he and you seem 
to have of me ; wherefore those so high praises 
are by so much the more grievous unto me, by 
how much I know the greater charge I have to 
render myself worthy of, and the fewer means I 
have to make them good. This weight is hardly 
suitable to my weak shoulders ; this honour is 
not correspondent to my poor deserts ; it is a 


burthen, not glory ; a care, not a dignity ; the 
one therefore I must bear as manfully as I can, 
and discharge the other with as much dexterity 
as I shall be able. The earnest desire which I 
have always had, and do now acknowledge my- 
self to have, to satisfy by all means I can pos- 
^sible the most ample benefits of his highness, 
will greatly excite and aid me to the diligent 
performance of all ; which I trust also I shall 
be more able to do, if I find all your good wills 
and wishes both favourable unto me, and con- 
formable to his royal munificence ; because my 
serious endeavours to do well, joined with your 
favourable acceptance, will easily procure that 
whatsoever is performed by me, though it be in 
itself but small, yet will it seem great and praise- 
worthy, for those things are always achieved 
happily which are accepted willingly ; and those 
succeed fortunately which are received by others 
courteously. As you therefore do hope for 
great matters, and the best at my hands, so 
though I dare not promise any such, yet do I 
promise truly and affectionately to perform the 
best I shall be able." 

When Sir Thomas had spoken these words, 
turning his face to the high judgment seat of 
the chancery, he proceeded in this manner : 
" But when I look upon this seat, when I think 
how great and what kind of personages have 


possessed this place before me, when I call to 
mind who he was that sat in it last of all ; a man 
of what singular wisdom, of what notable expe- 
rience, what a prosperous and favourable fortune 
he had for a great space, and how at last dejected 
with a heavy downfall he hath died inglorious ; 
I have cause enough, by my predecessor's ex- 
ample, to think honour but slippery, and this 
dignity not so grateful to me as it may seem to 
others ; for both it is a hard matter to follow 
with like paces or praises a man of such admi- 
rable wit, prudence, authority, and splendour, to 
whom I may seem but as the lighting of a 
candle when the sun is down ; and also the 
sudden and unexpected fall of so great a man 
as he was doth terribly put me in mind that this 
honour ought not to please me too much, nor 
the lustre of this glistering seat dazzle mine 
eyes. Wherefore I ascend this seat as a place 
full of labour and danger, void of all solid and 
true honour; the which by how much the 
higher it is, by so much greater fall I am to fear, 
as well in respect of the very nature of the 
thing itself, as because I am warned by this late 
fearful example. And truly I might even now 
at this very first entrance stumble, yea faint, 
but that his majesty's most singular favour 
towards me, and all your good wills, which your 
joyful countenance doth testify in this most 


honourable assembly, doth somewhat recreate 
and refresh me ; otherwise, this seat would be 
no more pleasing to me than that sword was to 
Damocles, which hung over his head, tied only 
by a hair of a horse's tail, when he had store of 
delicate fare before him, seated in the chair of 
state of Denis, the tyrant of Sicily ; this, there- 
fore, shall be always fresh in my mind ; this will 
I have still before mine eyes, that this seat will 
be honourable, famous, and full of glory unto 
me, if I shall with care and diligence, fidelity 
and wisdom endeavour to do my duty, and shall 
persuade myself, that the enjoying thereof may 
chance to be but short and uncertain ; the one 
whereof my labour ought to perform, the other 
my predecessor's example may easily teach me. 
All which being so, you may easily perceive 
what great pleasure I take in this high dignity, 
or in this most noble duke's praising of me." 

All the world took notice now of Sir 
Thomas' dignity, whereof Erasmus writeth to 
John Fabius, Bishop of Vienna, thus : " Concern- 
ing the new increase of honour lately happened 
to Thomas More, I should easily make you 
believe it, if I should show you the letters of 
many famous men, rejoicing with much alacrity, 
and congratulating the king, the realm, himself, 
and also me, for More's honour, in being made 
Lord Chancellor of England." 


Now it was a comfortable thing for any man 
to behold, how two great rooms of Westminster 
Hall were taken up, one with the son, the other 
with the father, which hath as yet never been 
heard of before or since ; the son to be Lord 
Chancellor, and the father, Sir John More, to 
be one of the ancientest judges of the King's 
Bench, if not the eldest of all, for now he was 
near ninety years old. Yea what a grateful spec- 
tacle was it to see the son go to ask the father 
blessing, every day upon his knees, before he 
sat in his own seat; a thing expressing rare 
humility, exemplar obedience, and submissive 

Shortly began every one to find a great 
alteration between the intolerable pride of the 
precedent chancellor, Wolsey, who would scarce 
look or speak to any, and into whose only pre- 
sence none could be admitted, unless his fingers 
were tipped with gold ; and on the other side, 
this chancellor, the poorer and the meaner the 
suppliant was, the more affably he would speak 
unto him, the more attentively he would hearken 
to his cause, and with speedy trial dispatch him ; 
for which purpose he used commonly, every 
afternoon, to sit in his open hall, so that if any 
person whatsoever had any suit unto him, he 
might the more boldly come unto him, and there 
open to him his complaints. 


Which his open manner of extraordinary 
favour to all, my uncle Dauncy, his son-in-law, 
seemed merrily on a time to find fault with, 
saying, that when Cardinal Wolsey was chan- 
cellor, not only divers of his inner chamber, but 
such as were but his doorkeepers, got great 
gains by him ; and " sith I have married one of 
your daughters, I might of reason look for some 
commodity ; but you are so ready to do for every 
poor man, and keep no doors shut, that I can 
find no gains at all, which is to me a great dis- 
couragement, whereas else, some for friendship, 
some for profit, and some for kindred, would 
gladly use my furtherance to bring them to 
your presence; and now if I should take 
any thing of them, I should do them great 
wrong, because they may daily do as much 
for themselves ; which thing, though it is 
in you, Sir, very commendable, yet to me I 
find it nothing profitable," Which word Sir 
Thomas answered thus: " I do not mislike, 
son, that your conscience is so scrupulous ; 
but there be many other ways wherein I 
may both do yourself good, and pleasure your 
friends; for, sometime, by my word I may 
stand your friend in stead; sometime I may help 
him greatly by my letter; if he hath a cause 
depending before me, I may hear it before 
another, at your entreaty; if his cause be 


not all the best, I may move the parties to fall 
to some reasonable end, by arbitrement : but 
this one thing I assure thee, on my faith, that if 
the parties will at my hands call for justice and 
equity, then, although it were my father, whom 
I reverence dearly, that stood on the one side, 
and the devil, whom I hate extremely, were on 
the other side, his cause being just, the devil of 
me should have his right." 

What a saying was this to express the love 
to justice which he always bore ; and his deeds 
showed it so, that no malicious tongue ever 
could pick the least quarrel against him for the 
least touch of injustice, as shall be more at large 
spoken of, when every light matter comes to be 
sifted narrowly, after he fell from the king's 
favour; and that he would for no respect of 
alliance digress one jot from equity, well ap- 
peared by another son-in-law of his, my uncle 
Heron; for when he, having a cause in the 
Chancery, before Sir Thomas, and presuming 
too much on his favour, because he ever showed 
himself the most affectionate father to his 
children that was in the world; by reason 
whereof he would by no means be persuaded 
to agree to any indifferent order, at last Sir 
Thomas made a flat decree against him, where- 
in he lively expressed the practice of his former 


Now at his coming to this office, he found 
the Court of Chancery pestered and clogged 
with many and tedious causes, some having 
hung there almost twenty years, which was a 
great misery for poor suitors. Wherefore to pre- 
vent the like, first he caused Mr. Crooke, chief 
of the Six Clerks, to make a docket, containing 
the whole number of all injunctions, as either 
in his time had already passed, or at that time 
depended in any of the king's courts at West- 
minster. Then bidding all the judges to dinner, 
he, in the presence of them all, showed sufficient 
reason why he had made so many injunctions, 
that they all confessed that they themselves, in 
the like case, would have done no less. Then 
he promised them besides, that if they them- 
selves, to whom the reformation of the rigour 
of the law appertained, would, upon reasonable 
considerations, in their own discretion (as he 
thought in conscience they were bound), miti- 
gate and reform the rigour of the law, there 
should then from him no injunctions be granted; 
to which when they refused to condescend, 
" then," said he, " forasmuch as yourselves, my 
lords, drive me to this necessity, you cannot 
hereafter blame me, if I seek to relieve the 
poor people's injuries." After this, he said to 
his son Roper secretly, " I perceive, son, why 
they like not this ; for they think that they may, 


by a verdict of a jury, cast off all scruple from 
themselves upon the poor jury, which they 
account their chief defence; wherefore I am 
constrained to abide the adventure of their 

He took great pains to hear causes at home, 
as is said before, arbitrating matters for both the 
parties' good ; and lastly, he took order with all 
the attornies of his court, that there should no 
subpoenas go out, whereof in general he should 
not have notice of the matter, with one of their 
hands unto the bill; and if it did bear suffi- 
cient cause >of complaint, then would he set 
his hand, to have it go forward; if not, he 
would utterly quash it, and deny a subpoena. 
And when on a time, one of the attornies, 
whose name was Mr. Tubbe, had brought unto 
Sir Thomas the sum of the cause of his client, 
requesting his hand unto it ; Sir Thomas read- 
ing it, and finding it a matter frivolous, he 
added, instead of his name thereto, these words, 
" A tale of a;" and " Tubbe" was joined thereto: 
for which the attorney, going away, as he thought, 
with Sir Thomas' name unto it, found, when his 
client read it, to be only a jest. 

Shortly after his entry into the chancellor- 
ship, the king again importuned him to weigh 
and consider his great matter, thinking that now 
he had so bound him unto him, that he could 


not have gainsaid him; but he, valuing more 
the quiet of his conscience, and the justice of 
the cause, than any prince's favour in the world, 
fell down upon his knees before his majesty, and 
humbly besought him to stand his gracious sove- 
reign, as he had ever found him since his first 
entrance into his princely service ; adding, that 
there was nothing in the world had been so 
grievous to his heart, as to think that he was 
not able (as he gladly would, with the loss of 
one of his chiefest limbs,) to find any thing in 
that matter, whereby, with integrity of his con- 
science, he might serve his grace to his content- 
ment ; and he always bore in mind those most 
godly words that his highness spoke unto him, 
when he first admitted him into his royal ser- 
vice, the most virtuous lesson that ever prince 
e unto his servant, whereby he willed him, 
first to look to God, and, after God, to him ; as, 
in good faith, he said he did, and would ; or 
else might his majesty account him for his most 
unworthy vassal. Whereto the king courteously 
answered, that if he could not therein with his 
conscience serve him, he was contented to ac- 
cept his service otherwise ; and use in this mat- 
ter the advice of other his learned council, whose 
consciences could well agree thereto : yet he 
would, notwithstanding, continue his accustomed 
favour towards him, and never after, molest his 


conscience therewith. But how well he per- 
formed his promise., may be seen by the discourse 
following. And indeed there is no prince, be he 
bent to never so much wickedness, but shall find 
counsellors enough that will always seek to 
please his humours ; but to find one that will not 
agree to what the king is bent to have wrong- 
fully brought to pass, these are very rare, and 
therefore most to be admired. 

About this time it happened Sir John More 
to fall sick of a surfeit of grapes, as I have 
heard ; who, though he was very old, yet had 
he till then been more lusty than his years 
afforded him. In his sickness, his son, whom 
now he had seen Lord Chancellor,* often came 
and visited him, using many comfortable words 
unto him ; and at his departure out of this 
miserable world, with tears taking him about 
the neck, most lovingly kissed and embraced 
him, commending his soul devoutly to the mer- 
ciful hands of his Creator and Redeemer ; so 
with a heavy heart departed from him, who left 

* The father and the son were contemporaries in their high 
seats of justice for about a year. One of the few ascertained 
dates in the life of Sir Thomas More is that of the delivery to 
him of the great seal. This was on October 25, 1529. Sir 
John More died in the course of the next year ; for his will 
(which was made on Feb. 20, 1520) was proved on December 
5, 1530. It is to be found in the Prerogative Office, London. 
Jankyn, f. 24. 


him now bettered with a very small increase of 
estate, because his chief house and lands at 
Gubbins in Hertfordshire his last wife enjoyed, 
who outlived Sir Thomas some ten years, and 
therefore Sir Thomas never enjoyed almost any 
inheritance from his father ; insomuch that he 
affirmed in his Apology, which he wrote about 
this time, that all his revenues and pensions, ex- 
cept that which had been granted by letters 
patent from the king of his mere liberality, to 
wit, the manors of Duckington, Frinckford, and 
Barlypark, in Oxfordshire, all the rest, he saith, 
amount not to above fifty pound by the year, as 
those which he had from his father or by his 
wife, or by his own purchase. Surely a rare 
saying, that one of the king's council, who had 
gone through many offices for almost twenty 
years should not be able to purchase one hun- 
dred pound land ; when as now a private at- 
torney by his own practice will leave his child 
five hundred pound land of inheritance. There- 
fore in so great an officer this showeth an admi- 
rable contempt of worldly commodities, a boun- 
tiful hand to spend liberally and abundantly upon 
the poor, his own kinsfolk and family, the church, 
and upon hospitality. And as for ready money, 
he had not in all the world, when he gave up his 
office, above one hundred pound either in gold or 
silver; which is as strange as the former. All which 


doth demonstrate his uprightness, his munifi- 
cence,, his singular perfections, and his divine 
wisdom. For what could millions of gold have 
stood him in stead, but to cumber his conscience, 
when he lost all from himself and his posterity 
by reason of the malice of a spiteful queen, who 
pursued him and his to death, to their utter 
temporal overthrow, showing perfectly that say- 
ing, " non est malitia super malitia mulieris." 
For the king could not by his fall promise him- 
self any great increase of goods, as he had gotten 
by the cardinal's overthrow. 

Now the bishops of England at this time 
considering with themselves, that for all his 
prince's favour he was neither a rich man, nor in 
yearly revenues advanced as his worthiness de- 
served, and weighing with themselves what pains 
and travails he had taken in writing many learned 
books for the defence of the true catholic faith, 
against many heresies secretly sown abroad in 
the realm, to whose pastoral charge the reforma- 
tion of them principally appertained, there being 
not one clergyman that had matched his writings 
either in the greatness of the volumes, the sound- 
ness of the arguments to convince the adversaries, 
or the pains taken to reduce them. They called 
therefore a convocation together, whither most 
of the clergy came, where they concluded to 
offer unto him the sum of four thousand pounds 


at the least, thereby to recompense in part his 
travails therein sustained. To the payment 
whereof every bishop, abbot, and the rest of the 
clergy, after the rate of their abilities, were 
liberal contributors, hoping that this sum would 
content him. Wherefore his dear friends, Tun- 
stal, bishop of Durham, and Clarke, bishop of 
Bath, and, as is supposed, Veysey of Exeter, 
i-ame to Sir Thomas and spoke thus unto him ; 
how that they held themselves bound to consider 
him for his pains taken and bestowed to discharge 
them in God's quarrel ; and albeit they could not 
according to his deserts requite him so worthily 
as they willingly would, but must refer that only 
to the goodness of God : yet for a small part of 
recompence, in respect of his estate so unequal 
to his worth, they presented unto him that sum 
in the name of the whole convocation, desiring 
him to take it in good part. And though this 
were a bountiful deed in respect of those prelates; 
yet little knew they Sir Thomas's magnificent 
disposition, who answered them in this manner : 
" That like as it was no small comfort unto him,, 
that so wise and learned men accepted so well 
of his simple doings, for which he never pur- 
posed to receive any reward, but at the hands of 
God alone, to whom the thanks thereof was 
chiefly to be ascribed ; so gave he most humble 
thanks unto their honours all, for their sa 


bountiful and friendly consideration ; but he 
purposed not to receive any thing from them/' 
And when they with great importunity pressed 
still upon him, that few would have supposed he 
could have refused it, they could not for all that 
fasten any whit upon him. Then they besought 
him that he would be content they might bestow 
it upon his wife and children. " Not so, my 
lords, (quoth he,) I had rather see it cast all into 
the Thames than I or any of mine should have 
thereof one penny. For though your offer, my 
lords, is indeed very honourable, yet set I so 
much by my pleasure and so little by my profit, 
that I would not in good faith for much more 
money have lost the rest of so many nights' 
sleep as was spent upon the same : and yet for 
all this I could wish that upon condition all 
heresies were suppressed, all my works were 
burnt, and my labour utterly lost." Thus they 
were fain to depart, and restore to every one his 
own again. By which wise and virtuous answer, 
every one may see that all his pains that he took, 
were only in respect of God's honour, and not 
for either vain glory or any earthly commodity. 
Yea he cared not what any said of him, con- 
temning the people's dispraise as a blast of wind. 
For the heretics having gotten it by the end, 
that the clergy had offered him a great sum of 
money, and measuring other men by their own 


covetous humours, reported and wrote in pam- 
phlets that he was bribed by the clergy to write, 
whom he answered mildly by a flat denial, that 
he was not made richer by one penny from the 
clergy ; yet some of them had spent him some- 
what : and besides he being bigamus, twice 
married, could never hope for any spiritual 

The water bailiff of London, who had been 
sometimes his servant, hearing (where he had 
been at dinner) certain merchants somewhat 
drunk with this new poison, liberally to rail 
against Sir Thomas, in that he was so bitter 
against Lutherans, waxed sore discontented 
therewith, knowing well, that he little deserved 
any evil report; wherefore he hastily came to 
Sir Thomas and told him what he had heard : 
" And were I, Sir, (said he,) in such favour and 
authority with my prince, as you are, such men 
should not be suffered so villainously and falsely 
to misreport and slander me. Wherefore you 
may do well, Sir, to call them before you, and to 
their shame to punish them for their undeserved 
malice." But Sir Thomas smiling on him said : 
" Why Mr. Water-bailiff, would you have me 
punish those by whom I reap more benefit than 
by all you that are my friends : let them in 
God's name speak as lewdly of me as they list, 
and shoot never so many bolts at me, as long as 


they hit me not, what am I the worse : but if 
they should once hit me, then would it not a 
little grieve me ; howbeit I trust by God's grace 
and help, there shall none of them all be able to 
touch me. I have more cause, I assure thee, to 
pity them than to be angry with them." Lo, to 
what height of perfection had he now attained, 
that he was neither allured by hopeful gains, nor 
deterred one jot from his duty by evil tongues or 
slanders, always carrying one and the same ala- 
crity in all his crosses and adversities ; 

When that one of the house of the Manners, 
by the king's favour was come lately to a noble 
dignity, who had been before a great friend to 
Sir Thomas ; but perceiving that the world began 
somewhat to frown upon him for that he was not 
so forward as other men to egg the king to the 
divorce, and being desirous to pick a quarrel 
against him said unto him : " My lord, ' Honores 
mutant mores.' " Sir Thomas readily, after his 
merry fashion replied, " It is so indeed, my lord ; 
but ' mores' signifieth in English ' Manners' and 
not ' More ;' " he was therewith so put out of 
countenance that he wist not what to say. 

In like manner he wittily twitted another 
man, whom he had lent money unto : of whom 
asking his due, he bad him remember that he 
should die, God knoweth how soon, and then he 
should have little use of money, adding the 


sentence in Latin, to please Sir Thomas the 
more, " Memento morieris ;" whereto readily 
Sir Thomas said, " What say you, Sir, methinks 
you put yourself in mind of your duty herein 
saving ' Memento Mori aeris,' remember M ore's 
money." Thus was he continually in his dis- 
courses full of witty jests, that though his coun- 
tenance was always grave, yet none could 
converse with him, but he would make them 
laugh exceedingly ; tempering all serious matters 
with some witty device or other. 

It happened on a time that a beggar-woman's 
little dog, which she had lost, was presented for a 
jewel to my Lady More, and she had kept it some 
se'nnight very carefully ; but at last the beggar 
had notice where her dog was, and presently she 
came to complain to Sir Thomas,, as he was sit- 
ting in his hall, that his lady withheld her dog 
from her ; presently my lady was sent for, and 
the dog brought with her ; which Sir Thomas 
taking in his hands, caused his wife, because she 
was the worthier person, to stand at the upper 
end of the hall, and the beggar at the lower end, 
and saying, that he sat there to do every one 
justice, he bad each of them call the dog; 
which when they did, the dog went presently to 
the beggar, forsaking my lady. When he saw 
this, he bad my lady be contented, for it was 
none of hers ; yet she repining at the sentence 


of my lord chancellor, agreed with the beggar, 
and gave her a piece of gold, which would well 
have bought three dogs, and so all parties were 
agreed ; every one smiling to see his manner of 
enquiring out the truth. 

A certain friend of his had taken great pains 
about a book, which he would have set out, 
thinking well of his own wit, which no other 
would praise. And because he would have Sir 
Thomas to oversee it, before it was printed, he 
brought it to him to view ; who perusing it, and 
finding no matter therein worth the print, said 
with a grave countenance : if it were in verse, 
it were more worth : upon which words he went 
and turned it into verse, and after brought it 
again to Sir Thomas ; who looking thereon, 
said, soberly, " Yea, marry, now it is somewhat ; 
for now it is rhyme ; before it was neither rhyme 
nor reason." 

And although he never left his mirth in 
outward appearance, yet still did he use the like 
mortifications which he was wont ; yea he exer- 
cised acts of humility that he made most worldly 
men to wonder at him. On the Sundays, even 
when he was lord chancellor, he wore a surplice, 
and sung with the singers at the high mass and 
matins in his parish church of Chelsey ; which 
the Duke of Norfolk on a time finding, said : 
" God body, God body, my lord chancellor a 


parish clerk : you disgrace the king, and your 
office." " Nay, (said Sir Thomas, smilingly,) your 
grace may not think I dishonour my prince in 
my dutifulness to his lord and ours ;" having in 
his mind that saving of David in the like case 
dancing before the ark of God, when his wife Mi- 
chal laughed at him " Vilior flam in oculis meis ;" 
I will still think meanly of myself, whatsoever 
others shall think of me. He often would also 
in public processions carry the cross before the 
rest, thinking himself happy, if he could any way 
show love and readiness in Almighty God's ser- 
vice ; and when many counselled him in the long 
processions in rogation week to use a horse for 
his dignity and age, he would answer : it be- 
seemed not the servant to follow his master 
prancing on cockhorse, his master going on foot. 
He never undertook any business of importance, 
but he prepared himself first by confession and 
receiving the blessed sacrament devoutly, trust- 
ing more on the grace of God derived to us by 
these holy sacraments, than he did to his own 
wit, judgment and practice ; yet every of them 
was in him extraordinary, so that he lived a most 
worthy life in all the course of his actions : 
never changed with any prosperity, nor dis- 
mayed with any adversity. 

As when his barns of corn and hay were 
burnt, he never altered his countenance or 


showed the least sign of sorrow, only saying : 
" Fiat voluntas Dei ; he hath bestowed much 
more upon us, and therefore may take away 
what he pleaseth :" besides he wrote a most 
patient letter to my lady, which is thus; 
" Mrs. Alice, I commend me unto you : having 
heard by my son Heron, that ours and some of 
our neighbours' barns with all the. corn in them 
are burnt ; although we may be sorrowful for 
the loss of so much good corn, abstracting from 
God's holy disposition ; yet seeing that it hath 
been his divine pleasure to suffer it, we ought 
not only patiently but also willingly to receive 
this gentle scourge. God gave us all that we have ; 
and seeing he hath taken part of it away by this 
chance, his blessed will be done : let us neither 
murmur nor grudge for this accident, but take it 
in good part, and give God thanks as well in ad- 
versity as in prosperity. Perhaps this loss may 
be a greater benefit of God than the gain of so 
much would have been ; for he knoweth what is 
most expedient for us. Be therefore of good 
courage I pray thee, and taking all our family 
with you, go to the church and give God thanks 
as well for those things which he hath given us, 
as for those which he hath taken away, and for all 
that which he hath left us, which he can easily in- 
crease, when he seeth it fittest for us ; and if he 
pleaseth to take more from us, his blessed will 


be fulfilled. Let it be diligently enquired out, 
what our neighbours have lost, and desire them 
not to be sad for any thing, for I will not see 
any of them endamaged by any mischance of my 
house, although I should thereby not leave 
myself so much as one spoon. I pray thee be 
cheerful with all my children and family. Also 
take counsel of our friends, how corn is to be 
provided for that which is needful for you, and 
for seed corn this next year, if perhaps it be fit 
that we sow any fields ourselves ; and, whether 
that be fitting or no, I do not think it expedient, 
presently to give over all care of husbandry and 
let out our farm to others, until we have better 
and at more leisure considered of it. If we 
have more workmen in our house than we have 
need of, such may be dismissed, if they can be 
commodiously placed with other masters ; but I 
will not suffer any to be sent away to run at 
random, without a place to dwell in. At my 
return to the king, I see things go so, as it is 
likely I shall stay with him a good while ; yet 
because of this misfortune, perhaps I shall get 
leave to come and see you some time this next 
week, when we will confer more at leisure 
about these our household affairs. Farewell. 
From the Court at Woodstock, 13 Sept. 1529."* 

* Both in the MS. and printed copies the date of this 
letter is 1539, which is a palpable mistake. Mr. More no 


But mark how God rewarded this his patience : 
for it was in October next that he was made 
lord chancellor ; by which office he might easily 
have purchased many fair houses,, if his mind 
had aimed at worldly riches, and not rather 
thirsted after heavenly rewards. Some have not 
stuck to say, that if Sir Thomas had been so 
happy as to have died of his natural death about 
this time, he had been a very fortunate man, 
living and dying in all men's favour, in the highest 
judgments of the world, and prosperous also to 
his posterity ; for he had left them a fair and 
great inheritance, especially by the king's gra- 
cious gift; yea, no doubt, a saint of God, because 
the whole course of his life was so virtuous and 
innocent. But in my mind they are all carnally 
wise that affirm this, and no way have tasted of 
heavenly wisdom. For the last scene of this 
tragedy is the best, and not to be wished to have 
been omitted for all the land King Henry enjoyed, 
though you add the abbey-lands and all, after 
which now his fingers' ends began to itch : for 
that Cardinal Wolsey had showed already a 
precedent thereof, by getting leave of the pope 
to dissolve certain small abbeys for the building 

doubt wrote 1529, which is the true date, as Sir Thomas 
was made chancellor in the October of that year, soon 
after his return from Cambray. The barns destroyed were at. 


and maintenance of his great college of Christ 
church in Oxford, which for that cause, as I 
think, is St. Peter's work, and lieth still un- 

Though in all his life time Sir Thomas had 
showed lively examples of many excellent vir- 
tues, as piety, zeal of God's honour, wisdom, 
justice, liberality, contempt of the world and of 
worldly riches, yea what not ? yet his most heroical 
virtues towards his end he hath expressed more 
lively and exactly, as magnanimity, contempt of 
honours, of wife, children, possessions, life itself, 
and whatsoever can be of us desired, and in stead 
thereof hath chosen disgraces, extreme adversi- 
ties, imprisonment, loss of dignities, goods, and 
inheritance, and hath taken up his cross and 
followed Christ in shedding of his blood to his 
honour. " No champion is crowned till he hath 
gotten the victory ;" and behold he most glori- 
ously triumpheth over the flesh by forsaking his 
life and leaving it ; the world, by despising it ; 
and the devil by resisting manfully all his temp- 



HEN Sir Thomas had behaved 
himself in his office of the chan- 
cellorship for the space of two 
years and a half so wisely that 
none could mend his doings, so uprightly that 
none could take exception against him or his 
just proceedings, and so dexterously that never 
any man did before or since that which he did ; 
for he had taken such order for the dispatching 
of all men's causes, that on a time sitting as 
judge there, and having finished one cause, he 
called for the next to be heard ; whereto was 
answered, that there was not one cause more 
depending. This he caused to be set down upon 
record ; whereas at this day there are little fewer 
than a thousand, if not more ; whereof some lie 
in the suds by the space of divers years. 

When (as I say) Sir Thomas had deserved 
high commendations of every one, and now per- 
ceived that the king was fully determined to 
proceed to the unfortunate marriage of Anne 
Boleyn, and for that cause a parliament was 


called, wherein Sir Thomas being the chief 
officer of the higher house, was with divers 
bishops and noble men commanded by the king, 
to go down to the lower house to show unto 
them, both what many universities beyond the 
seas, and Oxford and Cambridge at home, had 
done in that behalf, with their public seals testi- 
fying the same. All which matters at the king's 
command he opened to the lower house, not 
showing his mind therein, yet doubting, (as good 
cause he had) lest further attempts should after 
follow, which, contrary to his conscience, by 
reason of his office, he was likely to be put unto; 
he made great suit to the Duke of Norfolk, his 
singular good friend, that he would be a means 
to the king that he might be discharged, with his 
majesty's favour, of the chancellorship ; wherein 
for certain infirmities of his body he pretended 
himself unable any longer to serve. The duke 
being often thereto by Sir Thomas solicited, at 
length obtained of the king, when at a time con- 
venient, by his majesty appointed, Sir Thomas 
repaired to the king to yield up unto him the 
great seal of England ; which his majesty cour- 
teously received at his hands, with great praise 
and thanks for his worthy service in that office, 
at which time it pleased his highness to say thus 
unto him; " That for the service he had hitherto 


done unto him, in any suit that he should here- 
after have unto him, that either should concern 
Sir Thomas's honour (that very word it liked 
his highness to use unto him) or that should 
appertain to his profit, he should not fail to find 
him a good and gracious lord." But how true 
these words proved, let others be judges, when the 
king not only not bestowed upon him the value of 
one penny, but took from him and his posterity 
all that ever he had, either given him by himself, 
or left him by his father, or purchased by himself. 

The next morning being holiday, few yet 
knowing what had been done, he went to 
Chelsey church with my lady and his children 
and family ; and, after mass was done, because 
it was a custom that one of my lord's gentle- 
men should then go to my lady's pew, and say, 
" his lordship is gone ;" then did he himself 
come unto her, and, making a courtesy with his 
cap in his hand, said, " May it please your lady- 
ship, my lordship is gone :" which she ima- 
gining to be but one of his jests, as he used 
many unto her, he sadly affirmed unto her, 
that it was true ; for he had resigned up his 
office, and the king had graciously accepted it. 
This was the way that he thought fittest to 
break this matter unto his wife ; who was full 
sorry to hear it; and it may be she spoke 


then those words, which I have rehearsed be- 
fore, " Tilli vally ; what will you do Mr. More : 
will you sit and make goslings in the ashes : it 
is better to rule than to be ruled." But to re- 
quite her brave mind, he began to find fault 
with her dressing, for which she chiding her 
daughters that none of them could espy it, 
they still saying they could find none; Sir 
Thomas merrily said, " Do you not perceive 
that your mother's nose standeth somewhat 
awry T At which words she stept away from 
him in a rage. All which he did to make her 
think the less of her decay of honour, which 
else would have troubled her sore. 

Shortly after this he called all his servants 
together, many of whom were gentlemen of 
good sort and fashion, and told them, that he 
could not maintain them as he gladly would, 
and therefore demanded them, what course of 
life they would betake themselves to ; and if 
they purposed to serve any nobleman, he would 
undertake to place them to their contentment, 
who with eyes full of tears affirmed, that they 
had rather serve him for nothing, than most 
men for a great stipend : but when to this he 
would not agree, he settled them all in places 
most fit for their turns, either with bishops or 
noblemen. His barge he gave to my Lord Aud- 
ley, who succeeded him in his office, and with it 


his eight watermen: his fool,* Pattison, he gave to 
the lord mayor of London, upon this condition, 

* This ancient appendage to the households of the great 
appears in Holbein's painting of the More family. One anec- 
dote of Pattison has been often related. When Sir Thomas 
scrupled to take the oath of the king's supremacy, Pattison 
expressed his surprise, adding, " Why, what eyleth him that he 
will not sweare ? Whereupon should he styck to swere, I have 
sworne the oath myself." Another anecdote, which shows that 
whatever sport might be afforded to our ancestors by the sim- 
plicity of these unfortunate beings, they were sometimes found 
to be a real annoyance, is to be found in the " II Moro" before 
quoted. In the course of the dialogue, Sir Thomas relates that, 
" Pattison was yesterday standing by the table while we were 
at dinner, and seeing a gentleman among the company with 
an unusually large nose, after he had gazed for some time upon 
the gentleman's face, he said aloud, to my great annoyance, 
1 What a terrific nose that gentleman has got.' As we all 
affected not to hear him, that the good man might not be 
abashed ; Pattison perceived that he had made a mistake and 
endeavoured to set himself right by saying, ' How I lyed in my 
throat, when I said that gentleman's nose was so monstrously 
large : on the faith of a gentleman it really is rather a small 
one.' At this, all being greatly inclined to laugh, I made signs 
that the fool should be turned out of the room. But Pattison 
not wishing for his own credit's sake that this should be the 
termination of the affair (because he was always accustomed 
to boast, as above every other merit he possessed, that what- 
ever he commenced he brought to a happy conclusion,) to bring 
this affair to a good end, he placed himself in my seat at the 
head of the table, and said aloud, * There is one thing I would 
have you to know : that gentleman there has not the least atom 
of a nose.' " 


that he should every year wait upon him that 
should have that office. After this he called 
before him all his children, and asking their 
advice, how he might now in the decay of his 
ability so impaired by the surrender of his office, 
that he could not hereafter as he had done and 
gladly would bear out the whole charges of 
them all himself (for all his children with their 
children had hitherto dwelt with him) so that 
they could not be able to continue together as 
he could wish they should : when he saw them 
all silent and none to show him their opinion 
therein, " Then will I (said he) show unto 
you my mind : I have been brought up at 
Oxford, at an Inn of Chancery, at Lincoln's- 
Inn, and in the king's court, from the lowest 
degree to the highest ; and yet have I in yearly 
revenues at this present little left me above a 
hundred pounds by the year : so that now if we 
look to live together, you must be content to be 
contributories together. But my counsel is, that 
we fall not to the lowest fare first ; we will not 
therefore descend to Oxford fare, nor to the fare 
of New-Inn ; but we will begin with Lincoln's- 
Inn diet, where many right worshipful men of 
great account and good years do live full well ; 
which if we find ourselves the first year not 
able to maintain, then will we the next year 
come down to Oxford fare, where many great 


learned and ancient fathers and doctors are con- 
tinually conversant ; which if our purses stretch 
not to maintain neither, then may we after with 
bag and wallet go a begging together, hoping 
that for pity some good folks will give us their 
charity, and at every man's door to sing a ' Salve 
Regina/ whereby we shall still keep company 
and be merry together." O worthy resolution ! 
see how he expresseth his love towards his 
children, but more towards God, taking patiently 
whatsoever might befal him. And he that pro- 
videth for the worst, will be the better prepared 
to endure lesser crosses. But what an admira- 
ble thing is this, that whereas he was by the king 
taken into his majesty's service from a very 
worshipful living, as I have said, four hundred 
pounds by the year, to deal in the greatest and 
weightiest causes that concerned his highness 
and the realm, he had spent with painful cares, 
travels and troubles as well beyond the seas, as 
within this kingdom, in effect the whole sub- 
stance of his life ; yet with all the gain he got 
thereby (being never himself a wasteful spender) 
he was not now able after the resignment of his 
offices, to find for himself and those who neces- 
sarily belonged unto him, sufficient meat, drink, 
fuel, apparel, and such needful charges ; all the 
lands, which he ever purchased being, as my 
uncle Roper well knew, not above the value of 


twenty marks by the year, and after his debts 
paid, he had not of my uncle's own knowledge 
(his chain excepted) in gold and silver left him 
the worth of one hundred pounds. Wherefore 
his children went to their own livings, all but 
my uncle Roper and my aunt, who lived in the 
house next unto him. 

And how really he had desired himself to 
resign up his place of chancellorship, partly for 
the above mentioned consideration, and partly 
also for his own content and quiet enjoying of 
himself, may well appear in that he so much 
liked and highly commended the like deed in 
William Warham, that worthy archbishop of 
Canterbury, immediately before Cardinal Wolsey ; 
as by this letter unto him is to be seen : * " I have 
always esteemed your most reverend fatherhood 
happy in your courses, not only when you exe- 
cuted with great renown the office of chancel- 
lorship ; but also more happy now, when being 
rid of that great care you have betaken yourself 
to a most wished quietness, the better to live to 
yourself, and to serve God more easily ; such a 

* This sentence stands thus in the manuscript : " Now 
having performed by his earnest suit, that which long before 
this Cassiodorus had obtained from his prince, and the same 
which William Warham, that worthy Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, had done immediately before Cardinal Wolsey ; see how 
Sir Thomas praiseth him for that very deed, writing unto him 
in one of his epistles thus." 


quietness I say that is not only more pleasing 
than all these troublesome businesses, but also 
more honourable far in my judgment, than all 
those honours which you then enjoyed. For 
many men, and amongst those some wicked men 
also, may oftentimes be raised to great offices : 
but when you had that high office of chancellor- 
ship, which, as all others of the like kind are, is 
of that nature, that the more authority and 
power one hath whilst he doth bear it, the more 
slanders he is subject unto having left it, to 
resign such an office voluntarily (which yet 
your fatherhood could scarce get leave to do 
with all the means you could use) none but a 
modest minded man would, nor any but a guilt- 
less man dare, do. Wherefore many, and 
amongst them myself do applaud and admire 
this your act, which proceeded from a mind I 
know not whether more modest in that you 
would willingly forsake so magnificent a place, 
or more heroical in that you could contemn it, 
or more innocent in that you feared not to 
depose yourself from it, but surely most excel- 
lent and prudent it was to do so ; for which your 
rare deed I cannot utter unto you how I rejoice 
for your sake, and how much I congratulate you 
for it, seeing your fatherhood to enjoy so 
honourable a fame, and to have obtained so rare 
a glory, by sequestering yourself far from all 
worldly businesses, ^rom all tumult of causes, 


and to bestow the rest of your days with a 
peaceable conscience for all your life past, in a 
quiet calmness, giving yourself wholly to your 
book and to true Christian philosophy ; which 
pleasing and contented state of yours, my own 
misery causeth me daily more and more to think 
of; who although I have no businesses worth 
the talking of (and yet he was then one of the 
king's privy counsel, treasurer of the exchequer, 
and employed in many embassages) yet because 
weak forces are easily oppressed with small mat- 
ters, I am so troubled daily with businesses, that 
I have not as much as once leisure to visit your 
fatherhood, or to excuse myself therefore by let- 
ter, and scarcely was I able to write this unto 
you, by which I was to commend this my little 
book of Utopia unto your most reverend father- 
hood, which an Antwerpian friend of mine (love 
swaying his judgment) hath thought fit to be 
published, and hath put it in print without my 
privity, being rather huddled up than polished, 
which I was emboldened to send to you, though 
it be unworthy of your learning, experience and 
dignity, relying on your courteous nature, which 
is wont to conster to the best every man's endea- 
vours, also trusting in your tried love towards 
me, by which I hope, though the work itself 
should not like you, that yet for the author's 
sake you will favour it. Farewell, most honour- 
able prelate." 

208 THI-: ui r. or 

A little after this time he wrote thus to 
Erasmus : u I have a good-while expected, it' 
any man eonld accuse me of any thing, since the 
deposing myself of the chancellorship : and as 
yet no man hath eome forth to complain of any 
my injustice: either I have been so innocent or so 
crafty that my adversaries must needs surfer me 
to glory, in the one, if they cannot abide I should 
do so in the other. Yea this the king's majesty 
also, as well in private discourse often, as also 
twice in public hath witnessed, for that (which 
shamefacedness will not sutler me to speak of 
myself) he commanded the most noble Duke- of 
Norfolk high treasurer of England, when my 
successor an excellent man was settled in my 
place to testify this to all the assembly, that he 
had hardly at my earnest intreaty suffered me to 
let the ottice go ; and not content with that sin- 
gular favour in my behalf he caused the same 
again to be spoken of in his own presence when 
in the audience of a public meeting of the 
nobility and people my successor recited his first 
speech, as the custom is, in the assembly of all 
the estates, which we call the parliament." 

He writeth also to Erasmus in another letter 
thus : ** That which 1 have from a child unto 
this day almost continually wished (my most 
dear Desiderius) that being freed from the 
troublesome businesses of public affairs, 1 might 
live somewhile only to God and myself, 1 have 


now by the especial grace of Almighty God, and 
the favour of my most indulgent prince, ob- 
tained." And then having spoken somewhat of 
the weakness of his health, he goes on, saying : 
" Having these things often in my head, either 
that I was to depose myself of the office, or that 
I should fail in the performance of my duty 
therein, seeing that I could not dispatch those 
affairs, but that I must endanger my life, and so 
dispatch myself of the office howsoever, I pur- 
posed at the last to forego the one rather than 
both. Wherefore, because I would as well be 
careful of the public welfare as of mine own 
health, I was an earnest suitor to my prince, and 
at last have obtained by his singular courtesy, 
that because I began to grow weary and even 
ready to lie under my burden, I might be rid of 
that though a most honourable office, whereto 
his favour had raised me above all my deserving 
as it was wholly without my seeking. I beseech 
therefore all the saints in heaven, that by their 
intercession Almighty God would recompence 
this most favourable affection of the king's to- 
wards me, and that he would give me grace to 
spend the rest of my age in his service, profitably 
and not idly or vainly, affording me health of 
body, that I maybe the better able to take pains." 
And to Cochleus he writeth thus : " I have 
been lately sore sick for some months together 



not so much to the sight of others, as to mine 
own feeling, which infirmity I can scarce shake 
off now, when I have left off my office ; for then 
I could not exercise my function of chancellor, 
unless I should endanger my health daily. The 
care of my recovery, but especially the due 
respect I had not to hinder public justice, moved 
me thereto, which I thought I should greatly 
hinder if being sickly I should be constrained to 
undertake businesses as I did when I was 
stronger. That leisure, which the favourable 
benignity of my most gracious prince hath 
vouchsafed to grant me I have purposed to dedi- 
cate wholly to my study and the honour of God." 

And as for his contempt of worldly honour 
he writeth thus to Erasmus : " You will not 
believe how unwillingly I undertake embassages ; 
neither can there be any thing more displeasing 
unto me than the function of an embassador." 
Of his Utopia he writeth, that he judged the 
book no better worthy than to lie always hidden 
in his own island, or else to be consecrated to 
Vulcan. Of his poetry he saith, " My epigrams 
never pleased my mind as you well know, my 
Erasmus, and if other men had not better liked 
them than myself they should never have been 
put out in print." 

The year immediately before his troubles, he 
spent most in spiritual exercises, and in writing 


of books against heretics ; of whom in another 
letter he speaketh thus : " That which I profess 
in my epitaph, that I have been troublesome to 
heretics, I have done it with a little ambition ; 
for I so hate these kind of men, that I would be 
their sorest enemy that possibly they could have 
if they will not repent ; for I find them such 
men, and so to increase every day, that I even 
greatly fear the world will be undone by them." 
Yet for all his hatred to them, no heretics suf- 
fered death whilst he was lord chancellor, as 
Erasmus confesseth in the above-mentioned 
letter. And indeed it seemeth he would not 
have them suffer death, because he writeth to 
that effect in the laws of his Utopia. Writing 
another time to Cochlie, he saith, " I would to 
God, my Cochlie, I had such skill in holy Scrip- 
tures and divinity, that I were able to write 
against these plagues of the world fruitfully and 
with good effect." Erasmus also confesseth that 
he hated those seditious opinions, with the which 
the world was then cruelly shaken. 

He would often talk with his wife and 
children of the exceeding joys in heaven, and 
terrible pains of hell, of the lives of holy martyrs, 
what torments they endured for the love of God, 
of their marvellous patience and deaths, which 
they suffered most willingly rather than they 
would offend God's divine majesty ; and what 
an honourable thing it was for the love of our 


Lord Jesus Christ to abide imprisonment, loss of 
goods, lands, and life ; adding also what a comfort 
it would be to him, if he might find that his wife 
and children would encourage him to die in a 
good cause ; for it would cause him for joy thereof 
merrily to run to death; besides, as prophesying 
of his future troubles, he would tell them what 
miseries might chance to happen unto him. 
With which virtuous discourses he had so en- 
couraged them, that when these things after fell 
upon him indeed, their misery seemed the more 
tolerable unto them, because shafts foreseen 
hurt not so much. 

Within a while after the resigning of his 
office, Mr. Cromwell (now highly in the king's 
favour) came of a message from the king to 
Sir Thomas ; wherein when they had thoroughly 
talked together, before his going away Sir Tho- 
mas said unto him, " Mr. Cromwell, you are 
entered into the service of a most noble, wise, 
and liberal prince : if you will follow my poor 
advice, you shall in your counsel-giving to his 
majesty, ever tell him what he ought to do, but 
never what he is able to do ; so shall you show 
yourself a true and faithful servant, and a right 
worthy counsellor ; for if a lion knew his own 
strength, hard were it for any man to rule him." 
But Cromwell never learned this lesson ; for he 
ever gave that counsel to his prince, which he 
thought would best please him, and not what 


was lawful. For it was he that was the mis- 
chievous instrument of King Henry to pull down 
all abbies and religious houses, yea to ruinate 
religion utterly ; whereby you may see the dif- 
ference between King Henry a just prince, whilst 
he followed Sir Thomas More's counsel, and 
after a cruel tyrant and bloodsucker, when he 
practised Thomas Cromwell's plots and devices ; 
and also we may see the issue of both these 
counsellors, the one having gotten great fame 
for his just deserts, the other having purchased 
eternal infamy, yea the overthrow of himself and 
his family. For though he attained to be Lord 
Cromwell, yea afterwards Earl of Essex,, yet his 
honour and life was soon taken away from him 
most justly ; and now there is scarce any of his 
posterity left, his lands are all sold, yea such was 
his grandchild's misery, that he complained very 
lamentably to some gentlemen that he had not 
bread to put into his mouth ; whereas Sir 
Thomas More's great grandchildren, though 
they live not in great abundance, yet have they, 
God be blessed, sufficient to maintain the estate 
of poor* gentlemen ; which God of his mercy 

Now had King Henry also chosen an arch- 
bishop of Canterbury for his own tooth, pro- 

* In the printed copies the word 'honest' is substituted 
for ' poor.' 


moted by the king, as I have heard say, at a 
bear-baiting, soon after Warham's death ; his 
name was Thomas Cranmer, Anne Bullen's chap- 
lain, a man wholly bent to fulfil the king's plea- 
sure in all things : by his counsel Queen Mary 
was after disinherited, and all men were to swear 
to the succession of Queen Anne's issue, and to 
renounce the pope's authority, by acknowledging 
King Henry and his successors supreme heads 
of the church of England. 

Unto this man there was a commission 
granted under the great seal to determine the 
marriage, who had a conscience large enough to 
put in execution, what the king did fancy ; and 
sitting at St. Albans about this new match, all 
things were easily accorded. The king pre- 
tended that he could get no justice at the pope's 
hands ; wherefore from thenceforth he seques- 
tered himself and his kingdom from the see of 
Rome, marrying Queen Anne in private ; for she 
was not solemnly carried through London, before 
she was great with child of Queen Elizabeth. 

Thus every man may see the cause of our 
breach from Rome, the union whereof had con- 
tinued more than nine hundred years, ever since 
holy Pope Gregory first converted us, and would 
have remained God knows how long, if that 
either King Henry would not have cast his liking 
upon a wanton damsel, or else the pope's con- 


science could have stretched to dispense with a 
king to have two wives together; for the king 
still would praise his former wife, and term her 
a virtuous woman ; only forsooth scruple of con- 
science was pretended ; but he could not see any 
cause of scruple in breaking his promise upon 
his appeal ; whereby he professed he would stay 
until the determination of a general council, to 
which from the pope he had already appealed. 

As soon as Sir Thomas had heard that King 
Henry was married, he said to my uncle Roper, 
" God give grace, son, that these matters within 
a while be not confirmed with oaths." My uncle 
then, although he saw no likelihood thereof, yet 
fearing always that that would fall out, which 
Sir Thomas foretold, waxed for these words very 
sore grieved. For he had many times had ex- 
perience, that he spoke prophetically of divers 

Before that Queen Anne should be carried in 
triumph from the Tower to Westminster through 
the streets of London, with many pageants and 
sumptuous shows, which proved after but a May- 
game, Sir Thomas received a letter from three 
great bishops, Durham, Winchester, and Bath, 
requesting him both to keep them company to 
her coronation, and also to take twenty pounds, 
which by the bearer thereof they had sent him, 
to buy him a gown ; the money he thankfully 


received; yet stayed he still at home, and at their 
next meeting he said merrily thus unto them : 
" In the letter, my lords, which you lately sent 
me, you requested two things of me ; the one 
whereof I was well content to grant you, that 
the other I might the bolder deny ; and like as 
the one, because I took you for no beggars, and 
myself I knew to be no rich man, I thought the 
rather to fulfil : so the other put me in mind of 
an emperor, that ordained a law, that whosoever 
had committed a certain offence, which now I 
remember not, except she were a virgin, should 
suffer death for it, such reverence had he to 
virginity. Now it happened that the first that 
offended in that crime was a virgin, which the 
emperor hearing of, was in a perplexity ; as he 
that by some example would fain have that law 
put in execution. Whereupon when his coun- 
sel had sat long debating this case very solemnly, 
suddenly rose there up one plain man of the 
counsel, and said, ' why make you so much ado, 
my lords, about so small a matter ? Let her be 
deflowered, and after devoured.' So, though 
your lordships have, in the matter of this mar- 
riage, hitherto kept yourselves virgins, yet take 
heed you keep your virginity still ; for some 
there be, that by procuring your lordships first 
to be present at the coronation, next to preach 
for the setting forth thereof, and finally to write 


books in defence of it, are desirous to deflower 
you ; and when they have deflowered you, they 
will not fail soon after to devour you. As for 
myself, it lieth not in my power, but that they 
may devour me, but God being my good Lord, 
I will provide so that they shall never deflower 
me." In which speech he most lively prophe- 
sieth both of all the bishops' fall to schism, which 
after befell ; and his own death, which followed 
not long after. 

These words of his, it is probable, came 
to Queen Anne's ears ; who as impatient 
as an Herodias, not abiding that any in the 
realm should find fault with her great catch, 
she incensed King Henry more against Sir 
Thomas More than any other man ; and a 
month after this solemnity was not past, but 
she got him to be sent prisoner to the Tower, 
little knowing that her fortune's wheel would 
soon turn after. 

When the king perceived he could not win 
Sir Thomas to the bent of his lust by no manner 
of benefits, then lo, the fair sunshine day of his 
favours became overcast, and there ensued a 
terrible storm ; he now going about by terrors 
and threats to drive him to consent unto it ; full 
little imagining that he was a steady rock, 
against which no waves of his rage could pre- 

But mark how Sir Thomas prepared himself 


for this valiant combat ; having given over his 
office of chancellorship, he never busied him- 
self in state matters any more, but gave himself 
wholly, during that year, which was between 
that and his troubles, not only to confute here- 
tics, as I have said, but also addicted himself to 
great acts of mortification, prayer, and piety ; 
he lessened his family, placing his men in other 
services ; he sold his household stuff, to the 
value of one hundred pounds ; he disposed his 
children into their own houses. As he lay by 
his wife's side, many nights he slept not for 
thinking the worst that could happen unto him, 
and by his prayers and tears he overcame the 
frailty of his flesh, which, as he confesseth of him- 
self, could not endure a fillip. He hired a pursui- 
vant to come suddenly to his house, when he was 
one time at dinner, and knocking hastily at his 
door, to warn him the next day to appear before 
the commissioners ; to arm his family the better 
to his future calamity ; imitating herein the act of 
Saint John the alms-giver, who hired a man to 
to come to him at meals, to tell him that his 
grave was not yet finished, and that he should 
take order for it, for the hour of death was 

But see how the beginning of this trouble 
grew first by occasion of a certain nun, called 
Elizabeth Berton, dwelling in Canterbury, who 
for her virtue and holiness was not a little set 


by amongst the common people ; unto whom,, 
for that cause, many religious persons, doctors of 
divinity, and divers laymen of good worship, used 
to resort ; she affirming to them constantly, that 
she had revelations oftentimes from God, charg- 
ing her to give the king warning of his wicked 
life, and of his abuse of the sword and autho- 
rity committed from Almighty God unto him. 
She moreover, knowing that my Lord of Ro- 
chester, Bishop Fisher, was of a singular and 
rare virtuous life, and of admirable learning, 
repaired to Rochester, and there disclosed unto 
him all her revelations, desiring his advice and 
counsel therein ; which the holy bishop per- 
ceiving might well stand with the laws of God,, 
and his holy church, advised her (as she before 
had warning to do, and intended it) to go to 
the king herself, and let him understand all the 
circumstances thereof; which she performed 
stoutly, telling him all the revelations, and so 
returned to her cloister again. 

In a short space after, she making a journey 
to the nuns of Sion, by means of one Father 
Reynold, a priest of that house, there she hap- 
pened to enter into talk with Sir Thomas More 
concerning such secrets as had been revealed 
unto her, some part thereof touching deeply the 
matter of the king's supremacy, which shortly 
after this followed, and about the unlawfulness 



of the king's marriage. Sir Thomas, though he 
might well at that time, without danger of any 
law (of which there was then none) freely talk 
with her therein : yet notwithstanding, he de- 
meaned himself so discreetly in all his talk with 
her, that he deserved no blame, but rather great 
commendations, as it was proved after most 
evidently, when it was sore laid to his charge. 

After the divorce was pronounced, there was 
set out a book by authority from the council, 
which laid down the reasons why this divorce 
was done ; wherein amongst other matters it 
was said, that therefore the king would not stay 
for the pope's sentence, because he had already 
appealed from him to the next general council. 
Straight after it was rumoured abroad, that Sir 
Thomas More had answered and refuted this 
book, of which slander Sir Thomas purged him- 
self, by a letter to Mr. Cromwell, now secretary, 
and in the king's great favour, showing by many 
arguments that he neither would nor could con- 
fute that book ; which letter is at large in the 
latter end of Sir Thomas's works. 

But for all his purging himself, accusations 
still came thick and threefold upon him. For 
the king, by threats, and sifting of his former 
deeds, would either win him to his mind, or else 
find some occasion to except against his doings ; 
and had he not been a man of singular integrity, 


free from all bribes and corruption in all his 
offices, every light matter would have been laid 
now heavy upon him ; as of some things he was 
indeed accused, which added more to his honour 
and reputation. There was one Parnell, that 
grievously complained against Sir Thomas, be- 
cause, when he was Lord Chancellor, at the 
suit of one Mr. Vaughan, his adversary, he had 
made a decree against him ; for which, at his 
wife's hands, Sir Thomas had taken a great gilt 
cup as a bribe. For the clearing of which accu- 
sation, Sir Thomas being called before the body 
of the council, the whole matter was in grievous 
manner laid to his charge ; and when Sir Thomas 
confessed the taking thereof, saying, that foras- 
much as that cup was given him, long after the 
decree, for a new year's gift, he, at her impor- 
tunity, of courtesy refused not to take it. Then 
the Earl of Wiltshire, Queen Anne's father, who 
was the preferrer of the suit, and hated Sir 
Thomas both for his religion, and for that he 
had not consented to his daughter's marriage, 
with much joy said unto the other lords, " Lo ! 
did I not tell you, that you should find the mat- 
ter true ?" Whereupon Sir Thomas desired their 
honours, as they had courteously heard him tell 
the one part of his tale, so they would vouchsafe 
to hear the other with indifferent ears; which 
being granted, he further declared unto them, 


that albeit at her urging, he had indeed received 
the cup, yet immediately thereupon he caused 
his butler to fill it with wine, and therein 
drunk to her; which when he had done, and 
she pledged him, then he as freely as her hus- 
band bestowed it upon him, did even as willingly 
bestow the same upon her again, for her new 
year's gift ; and so forced her to receive it, 
though much against her will ; all which herself 
and many others there then present, deposed 
before that honourable assembly. Thus his 
accusers were put to shame enough, and he with 
honour acquitted. 

At another time on a new year's day also, 
there came unto him Mrs. Coaker, a very rich 
woman, for whom, with no small pains, he had 
made a decree in chancery against the Lord of 
Arundel, (never fearing in acts of justice, any 
nobility of blood, or greatness of personage,) 
who presented him with a pair of gloves, and 
four score angels in them ; he thankfully re- 
ceived the gloves of her, but refused the money, 
saying, " Mistress, seeing it were against good 
manners to refuse a gentlewoman's new year's 
gift, I am content to take your gloves ; but as 
for the lining, I utterly refuse it," and so caused 
her to take her money again. 

One Mr. Gresham likewise, having at the 
same time a cause depending before him in the 


c-hancery, sent him for a new year's gift, a fair 
gilt cup, the fashion whereof he very well liked ; 
wherefore he caused the messenger to take one 
of his own cups, which was in value better* 
though the fashion pleased him not so well, and 
deliver it to his master in recompence of the 
other ; and under no other condition would he 
receive it ; wherefore he was fain so to do. 

Many like unto those acts did he, which 
declared how clean his hands were from taking 
of any bribes, which I could set down, but to 
avoid tediousness they shall be omitted ; for these 
are enough to show any man how little he gained, 
yea how little he cared, for all transitory wealth, 
esteeming virtues of the mind his richest treasure, 
and Christ naked on the cross his chief desire ; 
which holy pleasure of his, Almighty God before 
his death fulfilled, when for his love he lost all 
that might be most dear unto worldly men, sepa- 
ration from wife and children, loss of all liberty, 
and the utter overthrow of all his goods and es- 
tate ; yet by losing these things be gained better 1 ; 
for, instead of temporal, he achieved eternal, in 
lieu of transitory, he hath purchased permanent, 
in room of deceitful trash, he hath bought to 
himself a crown of glory ; " Centuplum accepit, 
et vitam aeternam possidet." He was a true 
merchant, that by selling all he had, bought the 
pivcious margarite spoken of by Christ in St. 


Matthew, than which there can be imagined 
nothing more precious, which, without doubt, 
he enjoyeth for all eternity. 

Now there was another parliament called, 
wherein there was a bill put into the Lower 
House to attaint the nun, and many other reli- 
gious men of high treason, and Bishop Fisher 
with Sir Thomas More of misprision of treason ; 
which bill the king supposed would be so ter- 
rible to Sir Thomas, that it would force him to 
relent, and condescend unto him ; but therein 
he was much deceived ; for first Sir Thomas 
sued, that he might be admitted into the par- 
liament, to make his own defence personally ; 
which the king not liking of, granted the hear- 
ing of this cause to my Lord of Canterbury, the 
Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Norfolk, and Mr. 
Cromwell, who appointing Sir Thomas to ap- 
pear before them ; my uncle Roper requested 
his father earnestly to labour unto them, that 
he might be put out of the parliament bill ; who 
answered then that he would ; but at his coming 
thither, he never once entreated them for it > 
when he came into their presence, they enter- 
tained him very courteously, requesting him to 
sit down with them, which in no case he would ; 
then the Lord Chancellor began to tell him, how 
many ways the king's majesty had showed his 
love and favour towards him, how gladly he 


would have had him continue in his office, how 
desirous he was to have heaped still more and 
more benefits upon him, and finally, that he 
could ask no worldly honour and profit at his 
highness's hands, but that it was probable that 
he should obtain it ; hoping by these words, 
declaring the king's affection towards him, to 
stir Sir Thomas up to recompence the king with 
the like, by adding his consent unto the king's, 
which the parliament, the bishops, and many 
universities had already consented unto. 

Whereunto Sir Thomas mildly made this 
answer, " that there was no man living that 
would with better will do any thing which 
should be acceptable to his highness than he, 
who must needs confess his manifold bounty, 
and liberal gifts plentifully bestowed upon him ; 
howbeit he verily hoped that he should never 
have heard of this matter any more ; consider- 
ing that from the beginning he had so plainly 
and truly declared his mind unto his majesty ; 
which his highness, of his benign clemency had 
ever seemed, like a gracious prince, very well to 
accept of; never minding, as he said unto him, 
to molest him any more therewith ; since which 
time/ 1 said he, " I never found any further 
matter to move me to any change ; and if I 
could," said he, " there is not one in the whole 



world,, which would have been more joyful for 

Many speeches having passed to and fro on 
both sides, in the end, when they saw evidently, 
that they could not remove him from his former 
determination, by no manner of persuasion, 
then began they more terribly to threaten him, 
saying, the king's majesty had given them in 
command expressly, if they could by no gentle 
means win him, that they should in his name 
with great indignation charge him, that never 
there was servant so villainous to his sovereign, 
nor any subject so traitorous to his prince as he; 
for, by his subtle and sinister sleights, he had 
most unnaturally procured and provoked the 
king to set forth a book of the assertion of the 
seven sacraments, and for the maintenance of 
the pope's authority, so that he had caused his 
majesty to put a sword into the pope's hands to 
fight against himself, to his great dishonour, in 
all the parts of Christendom. 

Now when they had displayed all their 
malice and threats against him, " My lord," said 
Sir Thomas, " these terrors be frights for chil- 
dren, and not for me ; but to answer that, 
wherewith you chiefly burthen me, I believe the 
king's highness of his honour will never lay that 
book to my charge ; for there is none that can 


in that point say more for my discharge than 
himself; who right well knoweth that I never 
was procurer, promoter, nor counsellor of his 
majesty thereunto ; only, after it was finished, 
l>y his grace's appointment, and the consent of 
the makers of the same, I only sorted out, and 
placed in order the principal matters therein ; 
wherein when I had found the pope's authority 
highly advanced, and with strange arguments 
mightily defended, I said thus to his grace, ' I 
must put your highness in remembrance of one 
thing, and that is this : the pope, as your majesty 
well knoweth, is a prince, as you are, in league 
with all other Christian princes ; it may here- 
after fall out, that your grace and he may vary 
upon some points of the league, whereupon may 
grow breach of amity and war between you 
both ; therefore I think it best that that place 
be amended, and his authority more slenderly 
touched.' f Nay/ quoth his grace, < that shall 
it not; we are so much bound to the see of 
Rome, that we cannot do too much honour 
unto it.' Then did I further put him in mind 
of our statute of prsemunire, whereby a good 
part of the pope's authority and pastoral cure 
was pared away; to which his majesty answered, 
whatsoever impediment be to the contrary, we 
will set forth that authority to the uttermost ; 
for we have received from that see our crown 


imperial ;' which till his grace with his own 
mouth so told me, I never heard before. Which 
things well considered, I trust when his majesty 
shall be truly informed thereof, and call to his 
gracious remembrance my sayings and doings in 
that behalf, his highness will never speak more 
of it, but will clear me himself." With which 
words they with great displeasure dismissed him, 
and parted. 

Then took Sir Thomas his boat to Chelsey, 
wherein by the way he was very merry, and my 
uncle Roper was not sorry to see it ; hoping 
that he had gotten himself discharged out of 
the bill. When he was landed and come home, 
they walked in his garden, where my uncle said 
unto him, " I trust, Sir, all is well, because you 
are so merry." " It is so, indeed son, I thank 
God." " Are you then, Sir, put out of the par- 
liament bill ?" said my uncle. " By my troth, 
son, I never remembered it." " Never remem- 
bered that !" said he, " that toucheth you and 
us all so near ? I am very sorry to hear it ; 
for I trusted all had been well when I saw you 
so merry." " Wouldest thou know, son, why I 
am so joyful ? In good faith, I rejoice that I 
have given the devil a foul fall ; because I have 
with those lords gone so far, that without great 
shame I can never go back." This was the 
cause of his joy, not the ridding himself of 


troubles, but the confidence he had in God, that 
he would give him strength willingly to suffer 
any tiling for Christ's sake, that he might say 
with Christ Jesus, " Desiderio desideravi," &c. 
I thirst greatly to drink of the cup of Christ's 
passion ; and with St. Paul, " Cupio dissolvi, et 
esse cum Christo." But these speeches, though 
they liked Sir Thomas well, yet pleased they 
my uncle Roper but a little. 

Now after the report made of this their 
examination of Sir Thomas to the king, by the 
Lord Chancellor and the rest, King Henry was 
so highly displeased with Sir Thomas More, that 
he plainly told them, that he was resolutely 
determined, that the foresaid parliament bill 
should undoubtedly proceed against them. Yet 
to this the Lord Chancellor and the rest said, 
that they had perceived that all the Upper 
House was so powerfully bent to hear Sir Tho- 
mas speak in his own defence, that if he were not 
put out of the bill, it would utterly be overthrown, 
and have no force against the rest. Which 
words, although the king heard them speak, yet 
needs would he have his own will therein, 
adding, that he would be personally present 
himself at the passing of it. But the Lord 
Audley and the rest, seeing him so vehemently 
bent upon it, fell down upon their knees, and 
besought his majesty not to do so ; considering 


that if he in his own person should be con- 
fronted, and receive an overthrow, it would not 
only encourage his subjects ever after to con- 
temn him, but also redound to his dishonour 
for ever throughout all Christendom ; and they 
doubted not, in time, but to find some other 
fitter matter against him ;. for in this case of the 
nun, they said, all men accounted him so clear 
and innocent, that for his behaviour therein 
every one reckoned him rather worthy of praise 
than of reproof. At which words of theirs, the 
king was contented, at their earnest persuasion, 
to condescend to their petition ; yet was not his 
displeasure against Sir Thomas any whit assuaged, 
but much more incensed. 

On the next morning, Mr. Cromwell meet- 
ing my uncle Roper in the Parliament House, told 
him that his father was put out of the bill, which 
message he sent presently to Chelsey; and 
when my aunt Roper told her father thereof, he 
answered, " In faith, Megg, quod differtur, non 
aufertur," knowing, as it were, the very bottom 
of the king's heart, and all his counsels, imagin- 
ing that this was not any favour done unto him, 
but that they might find a fitter matter to work 
on, as it shortly after proved; 

Within a while after the Duke of Norfolk 
fell into familiar talk with Sir Thomas, and 
amongst other speeches, he said unto him, " By 


the mass, Mr. More, it is perilous striving with 
princes ; therefore, I could wish you as a friend 
to incline to the king's pleasure ; for by God's 
body, Mr. More, indignatio principis mors est." 
" Is that all, my lord, (said Sir Thomas,) 
why, then, there is no more difference be- 
tween your grace and me, but that I shall die 
to-day, and you to-morrow. If, therefore, the 
anger of a prince causeth but a temporal death, 
we have greater cause to fear the eternal death, 
which the king of heaven can condemn us 
withal, if we stick not to displease him, by 
pleasing an earthly king." 

Now in this parliament, in the year 1534, 
when as Queen Elizabeth had been born the 
September before, and Queen Anne had been 
proclaimed queen the 12th of April before that, 
and Queen Catherine declared the widow only 
of Prince Arthur, there was, I say, at this parlia- 
ment an oath framed, w r hereby all English sub- 
jects should both renounce the pope's authority, 
and swear also to the succession of Queen Anne's 
children, accounting the Lady Mary illegitimate ; 
within a month or thereabouts after the enacting 
of this statute, all the clergy, as well bishops as 
priests, yet no layman but Sir Thomas More, 
were summoned to appear at Lambeth, before 
the Lord Archbishop Cranmer, the Lord Chan- 
cellor Audley, Mr. Secretary Cromwell, the 


Abbot of Westminster, with others appointed 
commissioners by the king, to tender this oath 
unto them. 

On the same morning that Sir Thomas was 
to go thither, as he was accustomed before he 
took any matter of importance in hand, he went 
to Chelsey church, and there was confessed, and 
received at mass devoutly the blessed sacrament ; 
and whereas ever at other times, before he 
parted from his wife and children, they used to 
bring him to his boat, and there kissing them, 
bade them farewell ; at this time he suffered 
none of them to follow him forth of his gate, 
but pulled the wicket after him, and with a 
heavy heart, as by his countenance appeared, 
he took boat with his son Roper, and their men, 
in which sitting sadly a while, as it were with 
Christ in his agony in the garden, at the last 
suddenly he rounded my uncle in the ear, and 
said, " I thank our Lord, son, the field is won." 
Whereto my uncle answered at random, as not 
knowing then his meaning; " I am very glad 
thereof." But one may easily know what he meant, 
and so my uncle afterward perceived, that the 
burning love of God wrought in him so effec- 
tually, that it now had conquered all carnal 
affections; trusting to that saying of our Saviour, 
" Behold, and have confidence ; I have con- 
quered the world." 


How wisely he behaved himself at Lambeth, 
may be seen in a letter of his sent after to my 
aunt Roper, which is set out in print in the latter 
end of his English works, with other his most 
singular letters, wherein he lively describeth to 
his children all his troubles, and showeth what a 
heavenly spirit he had to endure all for God's 
sake, trusting still chiefly to God's goodness, not 
to his own strength, the effect whereof is this : 
" After he was called before them, he requested 
of them to see the oath, which when he had 
read unto himself he answered, that he neither 
would find fault with the oath, nor with the 
authors of it, nor would blame the conscience of 
any man that had taken it, but for himself he 
could not take it without endangering his soul of 
eternal damnation ; which if they doubted of, he 
would swear unto them, that that was the chief 
cause of his refusal ; in which second oath, if 
they doubted to trust him, how then could they 
trust him in the former ?" Which he having said, 
my Lord Chancellor replied, that all there were 
heartily sorry, he should make such an answer ; 
for they constantly affirmed that he was the first 
man that denied to take it; which would greatly 
aggravate the king's displeasure against him; 
and forthwith they showed him a catalogue of 
the nobility and many others who had taken it, 
and had subscribed their names thereunto. 


Yet because he would not blame any man's 
conscience therein, he was commanded to walk 
into the garden awhile ; and presently all the 
clergymen, some bishops, many doctors, and 
priests were called in, who all took it, except 
Bishop Fisher, and one Doctor Wilson, without 
any scruple, stop, or stay ; and the vicar of 
Croydon, saith Sir Thomas, called for a cup of 
beer at the buttery bar, " quia erat notus Ponti- 
fici," and he drunk " valde familiariter."* 

* This notice of the vicar of Croydon is not in Stapleton, 
from whom More has translated in this part of the Life, but is 
taken from a letter of Sir Thomas More addressed to Margaret 
Roper, 17 April 1534. It was first published in the Works of 
Sir Thomas More, p. 1429 ; but may be found with other 
valuable illustrations of the life of More in Mr. Singer's edition 
of Roper's Life, p. 122. Neither has Cresacre More reported 
faithfully what his ancestor had said of this person. His 
words are these : " I hard also that Maister Vicare of Croydon, 
and all the remenant of the priestes of London that were sent 
for, wer sworne : and that they had such favour at the counsels' 
hande, that they were not lingered, nor made to dance any long 
attendance to their travaile and cost, as sutours were somtime 
wont to be, but were spedde a pace to their gret comfort : so 
farre forth that Maister Vicar of Croidon, either for gladnes or 
for drines, or els that it might be sene, ' quod ille notus erat 
pontifici,' went to my lorde's buttrybarre, and called for drinke, 
and dranke ' valde familiariter.' " In the margin of Robinson's 
edition of the Utopia, this vicar of Croydon is again mentioned. 
" It is thought of some that here is unfainedly meant the late 
famous vicar of Croydon in Surrey/' It is against that passage 


After all these had soon dispatched the 
matter, for which they were sent for, Sir Thomas 
was called in again, and the names of all that 
had taken the oath, were showed him ; whereto 
for himself he answered as before ; then they 
often objected unto him obstinacy ; because he 
would neither take it, nor give any reason, why 
he refused it; to which he replied, that his denial 
only would provoke the king's indignation suffi- 
ciently against him, and therefore he was loath 
an}' further to aggravate .his displeasure, showing 
what urgent necessity drew him unto it ; how- 
beit, if his majesty would testify that his express- 
ing the causes, wherefore he refused it, would not 
provoke against him his further anger, he would 
not stick to set them down in writing ; and if any 
man could satisfy those reasons to the content 
of his conscience, he would take the oath most 
willingly.* Then Cranmer, my lord archbishop 

in 'The Epistle' in which it is said, that one virtuous and godly 
man and a professor of divinity was exceedingly desirous to go 
to Utopia to perfect the conversion of so amiable a people to 
Christianity. There is other evidence that this fine political 
romance was taken by many for reality. 

* An important circumstance is here omitted, to be found 

in Sir Thomas More's own letter, which contains so full 

an account of all these proceedings. It is surprising that 

More omitted it, as it tends to clear his ancestor from the 

charge of obstinacy, in not declaring his reasons for refusing 


urged him, that seeing he was not certain of his 
conscience, but that it was a thing certain, that 
he must obey his prince, therefore was he to 
reject that doubtful conscience of his, and stick 
to the latter, which was undoubted. Yet if this 
argument were of any force, then in all contro- 
versies of religion we may soon be resolved to 
follow whatsoever any king commandeth us. 

And when the Abbot of Westminster had said, 
that he might very well suspect his own con- 
science to be erroneous, because he alone would 
seem to control all the wisdom of the whole 
realm, who had made and taken it : thereto 
Sir Thomas answered, that if he alone should 
stand against so worthy a kingdom, he had great 
cause to fear his own conscience ; but if that of 
his side he could produce a far greater number 
of as learned men as they, he thought himself 
" not then bound to conform his conscience to 
follow the consent of one kingdom against the 
general received opinion of the whole Christian 
world." When Mr. Secretary seemed greatly to 

the oath. To his last remark it was answered, that though 
the king should give him licence to speak, under his letters 
patent, yet would it not serve against the statute. To this 
Sir Thomas More replied, that if he had the king's letters 
patent, he would trust to his honour for the rest. What more 
could have been expected? 


pity him, Sir Thomas added, if any hard thing 
happened unto himself, he could not prevent it, 
without he should endanger his own soul. 

Then asked they him, whether he would 
swear to the succession ; to which he answered, 
that he was willing enough to do that, if the 
oath were set down in such words as he might 
safely take it ; thereto my Lord Chancellor said, 
" See, Mr. Secretary, he will not swear to that 
neither, but under a certain form of words." 
1 No truly, (replied Sir Thomas,) except I find 
that I may swear it without danger of perjury, 
and with a safe conscience." 

When he had thus behaved himself, he was 
committed to the custody of the Abbot of West- 
minster for the space of four days ; during which 
time the king consulted with his council, what 
order were meet to be taken with him. And at 
first albeit they were resolved, that, he swearing 
an oath not to be known whether he had sworn 
to the supremacy or no, nor what he thought 
thereof, he should be discharged ; yet did Queen 
Anne by her importunate clamours so exaspe- 
rate the king to proceed against him, contrary 
to his fonner resolution (but indeed for the 
greater honour of God and his martyr) the king 
caused again the oath of supremacy to be minis- 
tered unto him; who although again he made 
thereto a discreet qualified answer, nevertheless 


he was forthwith committed to the Tower; when 
as he went thither, wearing a chain of gold about 
his neck, Sir Richard Wingfield, who had the 
charge of his conveyance thither, advised him to 
send home his chain by his wife, or some of his 
children ; " Nay, Sir, (said he,) that I will not ; 
for if I were taken in the field by mine enemies, 
I would they should fare somewhat the better 
for me :" rather choosing to have it lost in the 
Tower, than that the king's officers should get it 
at home, when he should lose all ; or else 
esteeming nothing lost but gained, which was 
lost for Christ. At his landing Mr. Lieutenant 
was ready to receive him at the Tower gate ; 
where the porter demanded of him his upper 
garment : " Marry, porter, (said he,) here it is," 
and gave him off his cap ; saying, " I am sorry 
it is no better for thee." " Nay, Sir, (quoth he,) 
I must have your gown;" which forthwith he 
gave him ; and then was conveyed to his lodging, 
where he called unto him, John Wood, his man, 
there appointed to attend him, who could neither 
write nor read, and sware him beforeMr. Lieute- 
nant, that if he should hear or see him at any 
time speak or write any thing against the king, 
the council, or the state of the realm, he should 
open it to Mr. Lieutenant, that he might straight- 
ways reveal it again to the council. This was 
his peaceable and constant carriage in adversity, 


bearing all his troubles with great alacrity, that 
both God was much pleased with his willingness, 
and every man admired much his patience : for 
if adversity will try men's wisdom and true for- 
titude, surely Sir Thomas was a most wise man, 
that nothing happened unto him, which he did 
not in a manner foresee, and truly stout, that 
nothing could daunt his courage or abate his 

When he had remained with great cheerful- 
ness about a month's space in the Tower, his 
daughter Margaret, longing sore to see her 
father, made earnest suit, and at last got leave 
to go to him ; at whose coming after they had 
said together the seven Psalms, and Litanies 
(which he used always to say with her when 
she came thither, before he would fall in talk 
of any worldly matters, to the intent he might 
commend all his words to Almighty God's 
honour and glory,) amongst other speeches he 
said thus unto her, " I believe, Megg, that they 
who have put me here, think they have done me 
a high displeasure ; but I assure thee on my 
faith, mine own good daughter, that if it had not 
been for my wife and you my children, whom I 
account the chief part of my charge, I would not 
have failed long ere this to have closed myself 
in as strait a room as this, and straiter too ; now 
since I am come hither without mine own desert, 


I trust that God of his goodness will discharge 
me of my care, and with his gracious help 
supply the want of my presence amongst you ; 
and I find no cause, I thank God, to reckon 
myself here in worse case, than in mine own 
house ; for methinks God by this imprisonment 
maketh me one of his wantons, and setteth me 
upon his lap and dandleth me, even as he hath 
done all his best friends, St. John Baptist, 
St. Peter, St. Paul, and all 'his holy apostles, 
martyrs, and his most especial favorites, whose 
examples God make me worthy to imitate." 

By which discourse of his it appeareth most 
evidently, that all the troubles, which ever hap- 
pened unto him, were no painful punishments, 
but by his admirable patience and alacrity most 
profitable exercises. My aunt Roper contrary- 
wise, either because she would have more familiar 
access unto her father, or else because in- 
deed she would really persuade him to follow the 
king's fancy, began to divert him from such 
zealous discourses, and forcibly to urge him with 
many reasons and motives to the taking of this 
oath, that they might enjoy his presence at his 
house at Chelsey; first, because he was more 
bound to the king than any man in England, 
and therefore ought the rather to obey his will 
in a case that was not evidently repugnant to 
God's law ; secondly, it seemed not credible, that 


so many wise' and learned men, as were in Eng- 
land, should all impugn the will of God ; thirdly, 
that he should beware how he pinned his soul 
upon Bishop Fisher, being one of the meanest 
bishops in England ; fourthly, that there were 
so many bishops, doctors, and learned men, 
that had taken it, so that he being a lay-man 

ued bound, in her judgment, to accommo- 
date his conscience to theirs ; and lastly, every 
one thought him bound in conscience to approve 
that, which a whole parliament of the realm had 
so uniformly enacted ; for which reasons many 
have condemned you, father, said she, either of 
inconsideration, rashness, or obstinacy. To the 
first Sir Thomas answered, as may appear by a 

r of my aunt Roper's yet extant, which con- 
taineth all this their discourse, and by that letter 
of Sir Thomas's written to Mr. Cromwell, " that 
he had not slightly considered of this matter, 
but for these seven years' space, since the time 
that King Henry had written against Luther, he 
had diligently read over all the fathers both 
k and Latin, who all from Ignatius (St. John 
Evangelist's disciple) even to these late divines* 
with one consent, do agree of the pope's suprema- 
cy, which hath been also accepted of throughout 
all Christendom, these thousand years and more ; 
and he saw not how one member of the church, 
as England was, could withdraw itself from the 



whole body ;" yet when he saw this controversy 
began to be disputed of, he always had tempered 
his speeches against Tindall, that, e ex professo,' 
he never argued upon that theme ; but now 
being put to his choice, whether he should offend 
his conscience or the king, whether he should 
fall into temporal danger or eternal hazard of 
his soul, I cannot, saith he, resolve otherwise, 
than any wise man would. 

To the second, he said he would not con- 
demn any body for taking it ; " For some," saith 
he, " may do it upon temporal hopes, or fear of 
great losses, for which I will never think any 
hath taken it ; for I imagine nobody is so frail 
and fearful as myself ; some may hope that God 
will not impute it unto them for a sin, because 
they do it by constraint ; some may hope to do 
penance presently after; and others are of 
opinion that God is not offended with our 
mouth, so our heart be pure ; but as for my 
part, I dare not jeopard myself upon these vain 

To the third he saith, it was altogether impro- 
bable, because he refused this oath before it was 
tendered to Bishop Fisher, or before he knew 
whether he would refuse it or no. 

To the fourth, " Though there were never 
so many learned prelates within this realm, that 
should take it, yet being many more in other 


parts of Christendom which think as I do, I am 
not bound to conform mysetf to these alone, 
having the doc- tors of the church on my side, who 
could not be drawn neither for hopes nor fears." 

Finally, to the last, he wisely answered, that 
" Although to deny the decree of a general 
council were a damnable act, yet to withstand 
a statute of one realm's making, which contra- 
dicteth the constant opinion of the whole 
church, is neither a rash deed, nor an obstinate, 
but most laudable and Christian-like." All 
which disputation my aunt Roper set down in a 
letter to her sister Allington, printed together 
with Sir Thomas's letters. 

After all this, my aunt Roper sought to fright 
him with the danger of death, which might per- 
haps move him to relent, when he cannot hinder 
his mishaps, but now he might prevent all, 
it being not too late ; whereunto how humbly 
he speaketh of his own frailty ; and how confi- 
dently he relieth upon God's mercy may be seen 
at large; whose words are so humble, so zealous, 
so godly, that they are able to pierce any man's 
heart, that will read them, in the latter end of 
his works ; they breathe out an angelical spirit 
far cKfferent from the presumptuous speeches of 
either heretic or desperate man': " Lord help 
me ! If God, for my many and grievous sins, 


will suffer me to be damned, his justice shall be 
praised in me ; but I hope he will procure for 
me, that his mercy shall have the upper hand ; 
nothing can happen, but that which God 
please th ; and what that is, though it should 
seem evil unto us, yet it is truly the best." 

At another time, when he had questioned 
with my aunt Roper of his wife, children, and 
state of his house in his absence, he asked her 
at last how Queen Anne did. " In faith, father," 
said she, " never better ; there is nothing else 
in the court but dancing and sporting." " Never 
better," said he ; " alas, Meg, alas ! it pitieth me 
to remember unto what misery, poor soul, she 
will shortly come. These dances of her's will 
prove such dances, that she will spurn our heads 
off like foot-balls ; but it will not be long ere her 
head will dance the like dance." And how pro- 
phetically he spoke these words, the end of her 
tragedy proved. 

Mr. Lieutenant coming into his chamber to 
visit him, rehearsed the many benefits and friend- 
ships that he had often received from him, and 
therefore that he was bound to entertain him 
friendly, and make him good cheer ; but the case 
standing as it did, he could not do it without the 
king's displeasure ; wherefore he hoped that he 
would accept of his good will, and of the poor 


fare ho had ; whereto he answered, " I verily 
believe you, good Mr. Lieutenant, and I thank 
you most heartily for it; and assure yourself 
I do not inislike my fare; but whensoever I do, 
then spare not to thrust me out of your doors." 
Now whereas the oath of supremacy and 
marriage was comprised in few words in the 
first statute ; the Lord Chancellor and Mr. Se- 
c -rotary did, of their own heads add more words 
unto it, to make it seem more plausible to the 
kind's ears ; and this oath, so amplified, they 
had exhibited to Sir Thomas and others ; of 
which their deed Sir Thomas said to his daugh- 
ter, " I may tell thee, Meg, that they who have 
nmitted me hither, for refusing an oath not 
oahle with their own statute, are not able, 
by their own law, to justify mine imprisonment ; 
wherefore it is great pity, that any Christian 
prince should be drawn to follow his affections 
by flexible counsel, and by a weak clergy lacking 
grace, for want of which they stand weakly to 
their learning, and abuse themselves with flat- 
tery most shamefully." Which words coming to 
the council's ears, that " they could not justify 
his imprisonment/ they caused another statute, 
espying their oversight, to be enacted with all 

ther time, looking out of his window, to 
behold one Mr. Reynolds, a religious, learned, 


and virtuous father of Sion, and three monks of 
the Charter-house, going forth of the Tower to 
their execution (for now King Henry began to 
be fleshed in blood, having put to death the nun, 
and divers others, and many after, for the supre- 
macy and his marriage), Sir Thomas, as one 
that longed to accompany them in that jour- 
ney, said to his daughter, then standing beside 
him, " Lo ! dost not thou see, Meg, that these 
blessed fathers be now as cheerfully going to 
death, as if they were bridegrooms going to be 
married ? Whereby, good daughter, thou mayest 
see what a great difference there is between such 
as have in effect spent all their days in a straight, 
hard, and penitential life, religiously, and such 
as have in the world, like worldly wretches (as 
thy poor father hath done), consumed all their 
time in pleasure and ease licentiously. For 
God, considering their long continued life in 
most sore and grievous penance, will not suffer 
them any longer to remain in this vale of misery, 
but taketh them speedily hence, to the fruition 
of his everlasting deity ; whereas thy silly father, 
who hath most like a wicked caitiff, passed forth 
most sinfully the whole course of his miserable 
life, God thinketh him not worthy to come so 
soon to that eternal felicity, but leaveth him 
still in the world, further to be plunged and 
turrnoiled with misery." By which most humble 


and heavenly meditation, we may easily guess 
what a spirit of charity he had gotten by often 
meditations, that every sight brought him new 
matter to practice most heroical resolutions. 

Within a while after this, Mr. Secretary 
coming to him from the king (who still gaped 
more for Sir Thomas's relenting, than all his 
other subjects), pretended much friendship to- 
wards Sir Thomas, and for his comfort told him, 
that the king was his good and gracious lord, and 
minded not to urge him to any matter, wherein 
he should have any cause of scruple from thence- 
forth to trouble his conscience. As soon as 
Mr. Secretary was gone, to express what comfort 
he received of his words, he wrote with a coal, 
(as he did usually many other letters, because 
all his ink had been taken from him by the 
king's express commandment), certain excellent 
witty verses, which are printed in his book. 




LL the while Sir Thomas was in 
the Tower, he was not idle, but 
busied himself in writing (with a 
coal,* for the most part) spiri- 
tual treatises, as the " Three Books of Com- 
fort in Tribulation," where, in dialogue-man- 
ner, under the names of two Hungarians, fear- 
ing the Turks running over their country, who 
had made great preparations therefore, he 
painteth out in lively colours, both the danger 
that England stood then in to be overwhelmed 
with heresy, and how good Catholics should 
prepare themselves to lose liberty, life, and lands, 
and whatsoever can be most dear unto them, 
rather than to forsake their faith. It is a most 
excellent book, full of spiritual and forcible 
motives, expressing lively Sir Thomas's singular 
resolution to apply all those wholesome medi- 
cines to himself, now being ready to practice in 
deed, what he setteth down in words. 

* A stick of charcoal. The clause is not in the manu- 
script, and is probably not genuine. 


When he had remained a good while in the 
Tower,, my lady, his wife, obtained leave to see 
him, that he might have more motives to break 
his constancy; who at the first coming to him, like 
a plain rude woman and somewhat worldly with- 
all, in this manner began bluntly to salute him, 
" What the goody ear, Mr. More, I marvel that 
you, who have been hitherto always taken for a 
wise man, will now so play the fool, as to lie 
here in this close filthy prison, and be content 
to be shut up thus with mice and rats, when 
you might be abroad at your liberty, with the 
favour and good will both of the king and his 
council, if you would but do as all the bishops 
and best learned of his realm have done ; and 
seeing you have at Chelsey a right fair house, 
your library, your books, your gallery, your 
garden, your orchard, and all other necessaries 
so handsome about you ; where you might, in 
company with me your wife, your children, and 
household, be merry. I muse what a God's 
name you mean, here still thus fondly to tarry." 
After he had a good while heard her, he said 
unto her, with a cheerful countenance, " I pray 
thee, good Mrs. Alice, . tell me one thing." 
" What is that ?" salth she. " Is not this house 
as near heaven as mine own ?" She answering 
after her custom, " Tilly vally, tilly vally !" he 
replied, " How sayest thou, Mrs. Alice, is it not 


so indeed ?" " Bone Deus, man, will this gear 
never be left ?" " Well, then, Mrs. Alice, if it 
be so, I see no great cause why I should much 
joy either of my fair house, or any thing belong- 
ing thereunto, when if I should be but seven 
years buried under the ground, and rise and 
come hither again," (he might have said but seven 
months,) " I should not fail to find some therein 
that would bid me get out of doors, and tell me 
plainly, that it were none of mine ; what cause 
have I then to like such a house as would so 
soon forget his master ? Again, tell me, Mrs. 
Alice, how long do you think we may live and 
enjoy it?" " Some twenty years," said she. 
w Truly," replied he, " if you should say a 
thousand years, it were somewhat ; and yet 
he were a very bad merchant that would put 
himself in danger to lose eternity for a thousand 
years ; how much the rather, if we are not sure 
to enjoy it one day to an end." And thus her 
persuasions moved him but a little, thinking of 
those words of Job to his wife, tempting him, 
" Quasi una ex stultis mulieribus locuta es."* 

* We have, in the " II Moro," a story illustrative of the 
character of Lady More, who appears to have been but an 
unsuitable companion for Sir Thomas. " Wherefore," says 
one of the speakers, " to your opposition I will only reply, that 
it is exactly similar to a fine trait of your lady, Sir Thomas 
More, which I have several times wished to relate to you. You 
were reading to your daughters on the nature of a line, and 


Not long after this came there to him, at two 
several times, the Lord Chancellor, the Dukes of 
Norfolk and Suffolk, with Mr. Secretary, and 
certain others of the privy council, to procure 
him by all meai;s and policies they could, either 
to confess precisely the king's supremacy, or plain- 
ly to deny it. Here we may see that those very 
men, which seemed to cry before unto him," Osan- 
na, benedictus, qui venit in nomine Domini," say 
here, " Tolle, tolle, crucifige eum." This is the 
fickleness of the world and worldly men. But to 
this as appeareth by the examinations set out at 
the end of his English works, they could never 
bring him, because he was loth to aggravate 
the king's displeasure against himself, saying 
only, that the statute was like a two edged 
sword ; if he should speak against it, he should 
procure the death of his body ; and if he should 

taking great pains to make them understand that it consisted 
only of length, without breadth or thickness. When you had 
done, your lady called your daughters into the hall, and said 
to them, ' How very clever you are, children ! Where was 
the necessity for your father to puzzle his brains for a whole 
hour to show you what a line is? Look here, stupid children 
as you are, here is aline,' pointing at the same time to abeam 
which crossed the hall." " Tilli vally" occurs in Shakspeare. 
Lady More, however, appears to some advantage in her letter 
to Cromwell, written about this time, which is given in the 


consent unto it, he should procure the death of 
his soul. 

After all these examinations, came Mr. Rich,, 
afterwards made the Lord Rich for his good ser- 
vice done in this point, then newly made the king's 
solicitor, Sir Richard Southwell, and one Mr^ 
Palmer, Mr. Secretary's man, sent by the king to 
take away all his books ; and while Sir Richard 
and Mr. Palmer were busy in trussing up the 
books, Mr. Rich, pretending to talk friendly with 
Sir Thomas, said thus unto him, (as it proved after 
of set purpose), " Forasmuch as it is well known, 
Mr. More, that you are a man both wise and 
well learned in the laws of this realm, and in all 
other studies, I pray you, Sir, let me be so bold 
as of good will to put unto you this case : admit 
there were an act of parliament made, that all 
the realm should take me for king, would not 
you, Mr. More, take me for king ?" " Yes, Sir/' 
said Sir Thomas, " that I would." " I put the 
case further," said Mr. Rich, " that there were 
an act of parliament, that all the . realm 
should take me for pope, would not you then 
take me for pope ?" " For answer," said Sir 
Thomas, " to your first case, the parliament 
may well, Mr. Rich, meddle with the state of 
temporal princes ; but to make answer to your 
other case, suppose the parliament should 
make a law, that God should not be God, 


would you then, Mr. Rich, say so?" " No, 
Sir," said he, " that I would not; for no 
parliament can make such a law." " No more," 
reported he, that Sir Thomas should say (but 
indeed he made no such inference, as he 
avouched after to Mr. Rich's face,) " could the 
parliament make the king supreme head of the 
church ;" and upon this only report of Mr. Rich, 
Sir Thomas was shortly after indicted of high 
treason, upon the new statute of the supremacy. 
At this time, Mr. Lieutenant reported after to Sir 
Thomas that Mr. Rich had so vile a smell about 
him that he could scarce endure him, which Sir 
Thomas also felt. 

He had, a little before this, begun a divine 
treatise of the passion of Christ ; but when he 
came to expound those words of the Gospel, 
" And they laid hands upon him, and held him;" 
these gentlemen took from him all his books, 
ink, and paper, so that he could write no more. 
Which being done, he applied himself wholly to 
meditation, keeping his chamber windows fast 
shut, and very dark ; the occasion whereof Mr. 
Lieutenant asking him, he said, " When all 
the wares are gone, the shop windows are to 
be shut up." Yet still, by stealth, he would get 
little pieces of paper, in which he would write 
divers letters with a coal, of which my father 


left me one, which I account as a precious 
jewel, afterwards drawn over by my grand- 
father with ink.* 

What respect Sir Thomas had not to dis- 
please the king, in any of his deeds and answers, 
may be seen by his discreet behaviour in all his 
proceedings : for, first, in his books he never 
handled exactly the pope's supremacy, though 
urgent occasion were given him by the books 
which he took in hand to confute ; secondly, 
whatsoever writings he had, touching that con- 
troversy, he either made them away, or burnt 
them, before his troubles ; as a book, which the 
Bishop of Bath had written of that matter; thirdly, 
he would never take upon him to advise any 
man in that point, though much urged thereto 
by letters, especially of Doctor Wilson, his fel- 
low-prisoner in the Tower, knowing himself, 
being a layman, not to be bound to persuade a 
clergyman, much less a doctor of divinity; 
fourthly, when he was brought from the Tower 
to Westminster to answer his indictment, and 
thereupon arraigned at the King's Bench bar, 

* This passage is corrupted in the printed copies, 
where it stands thus: " Yet still, by stealth, he would gett 
little peeces of paper, in which he would write diuerse letters 
with a coale : of which my father left me one, which was to 
his wife ; which I accounte as a precious iewell, afterwards 
drawen ouer by my grand-fathers sonne with inke." 


where he had often asked his father's blessing ; 
he openly told the judges, that he would have 
abidden in law, and demurred upon the indict- 
ment, but that he should have been driven 
thereby to confess, of himself, that he had de- 
nied the king's supremacy, which he protested 
he never had done. And indeed the principal 
fault there laid to his charge was, that he mali- 
ciously, traitorously, and diabolically would not 
utter his mind of that oath. ' Whereto Sir Tho- 
mas pleaded not guilty, and reserved to himself 
advantage to be taken of the body of the matter 
after verdict, to avoid that indictment, adding 
moreover, that if only those odious terms were 
taken out, he saw nothing that could charge him 
of any treason. 

After that the king had endeavoured, by all 
means possible, to get Sir Thomas's consent 
unto his laws, knowing that his example would 
move many, being so eminent for wisdom and 
rare virtues, and could by no means obtain his 
desire, he commanded him to be called to his 
arraignment at the King's Bench bar, having 
been a prisoner in the Tower somewhat more 
than a twelvemonth, for he was committed 
about mid April, 1534, and this happened the 
7th of May, 1535. He went thither leaning 
on his staff, because he had been much 
weakened by his imprisonment, his conn- 


tenance cheerful and constant ; his judges were 
Audley, the lord chancellor; Fitzjames, the lord 
chief justice ; Sir John Baldwin, Sir Richard 
Leicester, Sir John Port, Sir John Spelman, Sir 
Walter Luke, Sir Anthony Fitzherbert, where the 
king's attorney reading a long and odious indict- 
ment, containing all the crimes that could be laid 
against any notorious malefactor, so long, as Sir 
Thomas professed, he could not remember a 
third part of that which was objected against him ; 
but the special fault was that of the refusal of 
the oath, as is before spoken, for proof whereof 
his double examination in the Tower was al- 
leged ; the first before Cromwell Thomas 
Beadle, John Tregunnell, &c. to whom he pro- 
fessed that he had given over to think of titles, 
either of popes or princes, although all the 
whole world should be given him, being fully 
determined only to serve God ; the second before 
the Lord Chancellor, Duke of Suffolk, Earl of 
Wiltshire, and others, before whom he com- 
pared that oath to a two-edged sword, for if he 
should take it, his soul should be wounded ; if 
he refused it, his body. That he had written 
letters to Bishop Fisher to persuade him therein, 
because their answers were alike ; upon all 
which it was concluded, that Sir Thomas was a 
traitor to his prince and realm, for denying the 
king's supreme jurisdiction in ecclesiastical 


government. Presently after this indictment 
was read, the Lord Chancellor and the Duke of 
Norfolk spoke to this effect unto him : " You 
see now how grievously you have offended his 
majesty. Yet he is so merciful, that if you will 
lay away your obstinacy, and change your 
opinion, we hope you may obtain pardon of his 
highness." Whereto the stout champion of 
Christ replied, " Most noble lords, I have great 
cause to thank your honours for this your cour- 
tesy ; but I beseech Almighty God that I may 
continue in the mind I am in, through his grace, 
unto death." By which three words he exer- 
cised the acts of three virtues, humanity, piety, 
and fortitude, showing himself a civil man, a 
godly Christian, and a noble confessor of Christ's 

After this he was suffered to say what he 
could in his own defence, and then he began in 
this sort : " When I think how long my accusa- 
tion is, and what heinous matters are laid to my 
charge, I am stroken with fear, lest my memory 
and wit both, which are decayed together with 
the health of my body, through an impediment 
contracted by my long imprisonment, so as I shall 
not be able to answer these things on the sudden, 
as I ought, and otherwise could." After this 
there was brought him a chair, in which when 
he was sate, he began again thus : 



" There are four principal heads, if I be not 
deceived, of this my indictment, every of which 
I purpose, God willing, to answer in order ; to 
the first that is objected against me, to wit, that 
I have been an enemy of a stubbornness of mind 
to the king's second marriage ; I confess that I 
always told the king my opinion therein, as my 
conscience dictated unto me, which I neither 
ever would, nor ought to have concealed ; for 
which I am so far from thinking myself guilty of 
high treason, as that of the contrary, I being 
demanded my opinion by so great a prince in a 
matter of such importance, whereupon the quiet- 
ness of a kingdom dependeth, I should have 
basely flattered him against mine own conscience, 
and not uttered the truth as I thought, then I 
should worthily have been accounted a most 
wicked subject, and a perfidious traitor to God ; 
if herein I had offended the king, if it can be an 
offence to tell one's mind plainly, when our 
prince asketh us, I suppose I have been already 
punished enough for" this fault, with most 
grievous afflictions, with the loss of all my 
goods, and committed to perpetual imprison- 
ment, having been shut up already almost these 
fifteen months. 

" My second accusation is, that I have trans- 
gressed the statute in the last parliament, that is 
to say, being a prisoner, and twice examined by 


the lords of the council, I would not disclose unto 
them my opinion, out of a malignant, perfidious, 
obstinate and traitorous mind, whether the king 
were supreme head of the church or no ; but 
answered them, that this law belonged not to me, 
whether it were just or unjust, because I did not 
enjoy any benefice from the church; yet I then 
protested, that I never had said or done any 
thing against it, neither can any one word or 
action of mine be produced, to make me cul- 
pable ; yea this I confess was then my speech 
unto their honours, that I hereafter would think 
of nothing else, but of the bitter passion of our 
blessed Saviour and of my passage out of this 
miserable world. I wish no harm to any ; and 
if this will not keep me alive, I desire not to 
live ; by all which I know that I could not trans- 
gress any law, or incur any crime of treason ; 
for neither this statute nor any law in the world 
can punish any man for holding his peace ; for 
they only can punish either words or deeds, God 
only being judge of our secret thoughts." 

Of which words, because they were urgent 
indeed, the king's attorney interrupted him and 
said : " Although we have not one word or deed 
of yours to object against you, yet have we your 
silence, which is an evident sign of a malicious 
mind, because no dutiful subject being lawfully 
asked this question, will refuse to answer." To 


which Sir Thomas replied, saying : " My silence 
is no sign of any malicious mind, which the king 
himself may know by many of my dealings, 
neither doth it convince any man of breach of 
your law. For it is a maxim amongst the 
civilians and canonists, ' Qui tacet, consentire 
videtur ;' he that holdeth his peace, seemeth to 
consent. And as for that you say, no good sub- 
ject will refuse to answer directly, I think it 
verily the duty of a good subject, except he be 
such a subject as will be an evil Christian, rather 
to obey God than man, to have more care of 
offending his conscience, than of any other 
matter in the world, especially if his conscience 
procure neither heavy scandal nor sedition to his 
prince or country, as mine hath not done ; for I 
here protest unfeignedly, that I never revealed 
it to any man living. 

" I now come to the third capital matter of 
my indictment, whereby I am accused, that I 
maliciously attempted, traitorously endeavoured, 
and perfidiously practised against this statute, as 
the words thereof affirm, because I wrote eight 
sundry packets of letters, whilst I was in the 
Tower, unto Bishop Fisher, by which I exhorted 
him to break the same law, and induced him to 
the like obstinacy ; I would have these letters 
produced and read against me, which may either 
free me or convince me of a lie. But because 


you say the bishop burnt them all, I will here 
tell the truth of the whole matter ; some were 
only of private matters, as about our old friend- 
ship and acquaintance ; one of them was in 
answer to his, whereby he desired of me to know 
how I had answered in my examinations to this 
oath of supremacy ; touching which, this only 
I wrote unto him again, that I had already settled 
my conscience ; let him settle his to his own 
good liking ; and no other answer I gave him, 
God is my witness, as God shall, I hope, save 
this my soul ; and this I trust is no breach of 
your laws. 

" The last objected crime is, that being exa- 
mined in the Tower I did say, that this law was 
like a two-edged sword ; for in consenting thereto, 
I should endanger my soul ; in refusing it, I 
should lose my life : which answer, because 
Bishop Fisher made the like, it is evidently 
gathered, as you say, that we both conspired 
together. Whereto I reply, that my answer 
there was but conditional, if there be danger in 
both either to allow or disallow this statute ; and 
therefore, like a two-edged sword, it seemeth a 
hard thing, that it should be offered to me, that 
never have hitherto contradicted it either in word 
or deed. These were my words. What the 
bishop answered, T know not. If his answer 


were like mine, it proceeded not from any 
conspiracy of ours, but from the likeness 
of our wits and learning. To conclude, I 
unfeignedly avouch, that I never spake word 
against this law to any living man ; although 
perhaps the king's majesty hath been told the 

To this full answer the attorney did not reply 
any more, but the word, malice, was in the 
mouth of all the court; yet could no man pro- 
duce either word or deed to prove it ; yet for all 
this clearing of himself, for a last proof to the 
jury that Sir Thomas was guilty, Mr. Rich was 
called forth to give evidence unto them upon 
his oath, which he did forthwith, affirming that 
which we have spoken of before in their commu- 
nication in the Tower, against whom, now sworn 
and forsworn, Sir Thomas began in this wise to 
speak, " If I were a man, my lords, that did not 
regard an oath, I needed not at this time in this 
place, as is well known unto every one, to stand 
as an accused person. And if this oath, Mr. 
Rich, which you have taken be true, then I pray, 
that I never see God in the face : which I would 
not say,were it otherwise, to gain the whole world." 

Then did he recite their whole communication 
in the Tower, according as it was, truly and sin- 
cerely, adding this : " In good faith, Mr. Rich, I 


am more sorry for your perjury, than for mine 
own peril; and know you, that neither I nor any 
man else to my knowledge ever took you to be 
a man of such credit, as either I or any other 
would vouchsafe to communicate with you in 
any matter of importance. You know that I 
have been acquainted with your manner of life 
and conversation a long space, even from your 
youth to this time ; for we dwelt long together 
in one parish,* where as yourself can well tell (I 
am sorry you compel me to speak it) you were 
always esteemed very light of your tongue, a great 
dicer and gamester, and not of any commendable 
fame either there or at your house in the Temple, 
where hath been your bringing up. Can it there- 
fore seem likely to your honourable lordships, 
that in so weighty a cause I should so unad- 
visedly overshoot myself as to trust Mr. Rich, a 
man always reputed of me for one of so little 
truth and honesty, so far above my sovereign 
lord, the king, to whom I am so deeply indebted 
for his manifold favours, or any of his noble and 
grave counsellors, that I would declare only to 
Mr. Rich the secrets of my conscience touching 
the king's supremacy; the special point, and 

* The parish of St. Lawrence in the Jewry, in which parish 
Sir John More lived, and by his last will directed that he 
should be buried in the church. Several of the Riches were 
buried in that church, as may be seen in Stowe,p. 277. 


only mark, so long sought for at my hands, 
which I never did, nor never would reveal after 
the statute once made, either to the king's high- 
ness himself, or to any of his noble counsellors, 
as it is well known to your honours, who have 
been sent for no other purpose, at sundry 
times, from his majesty's person to me, in the 
Tower ; I refer it to your judgments, my lords, 
whether this can seem a thing credible unto any 
of you. 

" And if I had done as Mr. Rich hath sworn, 
seeing it was spoken but in familiar secret 
talk, affirming nothing but only in putting of 
cases, without any unpleasing circumstances, it 
cannot justly be taken to be spoken maliciously, 
and where there is no malice there can be no 
offence. Besides this, my lords, I cannot think 
that so many worthy bishops, so many honour- 
able personages, and so many worshipful, vir- 
tuous, and well learned men as were in the 
parliament assembled at the making of that 
law, ever meant to have any man punished by 
death in whom there could be found no malice, 
taking ' malitia' for ' malevolentia ;' for if 
malitia' be taken in a general signification for 
any sin, no man there is that can excuse himself 
thereof. Wherefore this very word ' maliciously* 
is as material in this statute, as the word ' forci- 
ble' is in the statute of forcible entry; for in that 


case, if any enter peaceably, and put his adver- 
sary out forcibly, it is no offence ; but if he enter 
forcibly, he shall be punished by that statute. 

" Besides all the unspeakable goodness of 
the king's highness towards me, who hath been 
so many ways my singular good lord and gra- 
cious sovereign, he, I say, who hath so dearly 
loved and trusted me, even from my first coming 
into his royal service, vouchsafing to grace me 
with the dignity of being one of his privy coun- 
cil, and hath most liberally advanced me to 
offices of great credit and worship, finally, with 
the chief dignity of his majesty's high chancellor, 
the like whereof he never did to any temporal 
man before, which is the highest office in this 
noble realm, and next to his royal person, so 
far above my merits and qualities, honouring 
and exalting me, of his incomparable benignity, 
by the space of these twenty years and above, 
showing his continual favours towards me, and 
now at last it hath pleased his highness, at mine 
own humble suit, to give me licence, with his 
majesty's favour, to bestow the residue of my 
life in the service of God, for the better provi- 
sion of my soul, to discharge and disburthen me 
of that weighty dignity, before which he had 
still heaped honours more and more upon me ; 
all this his highness's bounty so long and so 
plentifully poured upon me, were in my mind 


matter sufficient to convince this slanderous 
accusation so wrongfully by this man surmised 
and urged against me, which I commit to your 
lordship's honourable considerations,, whether 
this oath be likely or not to be true." 

Mr. Rich, seeing himself so evidently to be 
disproved, and his credit so foully defaced, 
caused Sir Richard Southwell and Mr. Palmer, 
who, in the time of their communication, were 
in the same chamber with them, to be there 
sworn, what words had passed between them. 
Whereupon Mr. Palmer, upon his deposition, 
said, that he was so busy in the trussing up 
Sir Thomas's books in a sack, that he took no 
heed to their talk. Sir Richard Southwell also 
said, likewise, that because he was appointed 
only to look to the conveying of these books, he 
gave no ear unto them. And after all this, Sir 
Thomas alleged many other reasons in his own 
defence, to the utter discredit of Mr. Rich's fore- 
said evidence, and for proof of the clearness of 
his own conscience. 

But for all that ever he could do or say, the 
jury of twelve men, whose names were Sir Tho- 
mas Palmer, Sir Thomas Pierte, George Lovell, 
esquire ; Thomas Burbage, esquire ; Geoffrey 
Chamber, gentleman ; Edward Stockmore, gen- 
tleman ; William Browne, gentleman ; Jaspar 
Leake, gentleman ; Thomas Billington, gentle- 


man ; John Parnel, gentleman ; Richard Bel- 
lamy, gentleman ; George Stoakes, gentleman. 
These, I say, going together, and staying scarce 
one quarter of an hour, (for they knew what 
the king would have done in that case) returned 
with their verdict, guilty. 

Wherefore the Lord Chancellor, as chief 
judge in that matter, began presently to proceed 
to judgment; which Sir Thomas perceiving, said 
unto him, " My lord, when I was towards the 
law, the manner in such cases was, to ask the 
prisoner, before sentence, whether he could give 
any reason why judgment should not proceed 
against him." Upon which words the Lord 
Chancellor, staying his sentence, wherein he 
had already partly proceeded, asked Sir Thomas 
what he was able to say to the contrary, who 
forthwith made answer in this sort : " Forasmuch 
as, my lords, this indictment is grounded upon 
an act of parliament directly repugnant to the 
laws of God, and his holy church, the supreme 
government of which, or of any part thereof, no 
temporal person may, by any law, presume to 
take upon him, that which rightfully belongeth 
to the see of Rome, which by special prerogative 
was granted by the mouth of our Saviour Christ 
himself to Saint Peter, and the Bishops of Rome 
his successors only, whilst he lived, and was 
personally present here upon earth ; it is there- 


fore, amongst Catholic Christians, insufficient in 
law to charge any Christian man to obey it." 
And for proof of this sound assertion, he de- 
clared, amongst many reasons and sound autho- 
rities, that " like as this realm alone being but 
one member, and a small part of the church, 
might not make a particular law disagreeing 
with the general law of Christ's universal Ca- 
tholic church, no more than the city of London, 
being but one member in respect of the whole 
realm, may enact a law against an act of par- 
liament, to bind thereby the whole kingdom. 
So showed he further that this law was even 
contrary to the laws and statutes of this our 
realm, not yet repealed, as they might evidently 
see in Magna Charta, where it is said that ' Ec- 
clesia Anglicana libera sit, et habeat omnia jura 
integra et libertates suas illaesas.' And it is con- 
trary also to that sacred oath, which the king's 
highness himself, and every other Christian 
prince always receive with great solemnity at 
their coronations. Moreover, he alleged that 
this realm of England might worse refuse their 
obedience to the see of Rome, than any child 
might to their natural father. For, as Saint 
Paul said to the Corinthians, ' I have regene- 
rated you, my children, in Christ/ so might that 
worthy pope of Rome Saint Gregory the Great, 
say to us Englishmen, ye are my children, be- 


cause I have given you everlasting salvation ; 
for, by Saint Augustin and his followers, his 
immediate messengers, England first received 
the Christian faith, which is a far higher and 
better inheritance than any carnal father can 
leave to his children, for a son is only by gene- 
ration ; we are by regeneration made the spi- 
ritual children of Christ and the pope." 

To these words the Lord Chancellor replied, 
that seeing all the bishops, universities, and 
best learned men of this realm had agreed to 
this act, it was much marvelled that he alone 
should so stiffly stick thereat, and so vehemently 
there argue against it. To which words Sir 
Thomas answered, that " if the number of 
bishops and universities were so material as his 
lordship seemeth to make it, then do I, my lord, 
see little cause why that thing in my conscience 
should make any change ; for I do not doubt 
but of the learned and virtuous men that are 
yet alive, I speak not only of this realm, but of 
all Christendom about, there are ten to one that 
are of my mind in this matter ; but if I should 
speak of those learned doctors and virtuous 
fathers, that are already dead, of whom many 
are saints in heaven, I am sure that there are 
far more, who all the while they lived, thought 
in this case as I think now. And therefore, my 
lord, I think myself not bound to conform my 


conscience to the council of one realm against 
the general consent of all Christendom." 

Now when Sir Thomas had taken as many 
exceptions as he thought meet, for the avoiding 
of this indictment, and alleging many more sub- 
stantial reasons than can be here set down, the 
Lord Chancellor having bethought himself, and 
being loth now to have the whole burthen of 
this condemnation to lie upon himself, asked 
openly there the advice of my Lord Chief Jus- 
tice of England, Sir John Fitzjames, whether 
this indictment were sufficient or no ; who 
wisely answered thus : " My lords all, by Saint 
Gillian," for that was ever his oath, " I must 
needs confess, that if the act of parliament be 
not unlawful, then the indictment is not, in my 
conscience, insufficient." An answer like that 
of the Scribes and Pharisees to Pilate : ( If this 
man were not a malefactor, we would never 
have delivered him unto you.' And so, with 
IFS and ANS, he added to the matter a slender 
evasion. Upon whose words my Lord Chan- 
cellor spoke, even as Caiaphas spoke to the 
Jewish council : ' Quid adhuc desideramus tes- 
timonium, reus est mortis.' And so presently 
he pronounced this sentence : 

That he should be brought back to the Tower 
of London, by the help of William Bingston, 
sheriff, and from thence drawn on a hurdle 


through the city of London to Tyburn,, there 
to be hanged till he be half dead, after that cut 
down yet alive, his belly ripped, his bowels 
burnt, and his four quarters set up over four gates 
of the city, and his head upon London Bridge. 

This was the judgment of that worthy man, 
who had so well deserved both of king and 
country, for which Paulus Jovius calleth King 
Henry another Phalaris. 

The sentence yet was, by the king's pardon, 
changed afterwards only into beheading, because 
he had borne the greatest office of the realm ; 
of which mercy of the king's, word being brought 
to Sir Thomas, he answered merrily, " God 
forbid the king should use any more such mercy 
unto any of my friends ; and God bless all my 
posterity from such pardons." 

When Sir Thomas had now fully perceived 
that he was called to martyrdom, having received 
sentence of death, with a bold and constant 
countenance he spoke in this manner : " Well, 
seeing I am condemned, God knows how justly, 
I will freely speak for the disburdening of my 
conscience, what I think of this law. When I 
perceived that the king's pleasure was to sift 
out from whence the pope's authority was de- 
rived, I confess I studied seven years together 
to find out the truth thereof; and I could not 
read in any one doctor's writings, which the 


church alloweth, any one saying that avouched 
that a layman was,, or could ever be, head of the 

To this my Lord Chancellor again : " Would 
you be accounted more wise, and of more sin- 
cere conscience than all the bishops, learned 
doctors, nobility, and commons of this realm ?" 
To which Sir Thomas replied : " I am able to 
produce against one bishop, which you can bring 
forth of your side, one hundred holy and Ca- 
tholic bishops for my opinion ; and against one 
realm, the consent of all Christendom for more 
than a thousand years." The Duke of Norfolk 
hearing this, said, " Now, Sir Thomas, you show 
your obstinate and malicious mind." To whom 
Sir Thomas said, " Noble Sir, not any malice or 
obstinacy causeth me to say this, but the just 
necessity of the cause constraineth me for the 
discharge of my conscience, and I call God to 
witness, no other than this hath moved me 

After this the judges courteously offered him 
their favourable audience, if he had any thing to 
allege in his own defence ; who answered most 
mildly and charitably, " More have I not to 
say, my lords, but that like as the blessed 
apostle Saint Paul, as we read in the Acts of the 
Apostles, was present and consenting to the 
death of the protomartyr Saint Stephen, keeping 


their clothes that stoned him to death, and yet 
they be now both twain holy saints in heaven, 
and there shall continue friends together for 
ever ; so I verily trust, and shall therefore hear- 
tily pray, that though your lordships have been 
on earth my judges to condemnation, yet we 
may hereafter meet in heaven merrily together, 
to our everlasting salvation ; and God preserve 
you all, especially my sovereign lord the king, 
and grant him faithful counsellors :" in which 
prayer he most lively imitated the example of 
holy Saint Stephen ; " ne statuas illis hoc pecca- 
tum ;" yea, of our Saviour himself, speaking on 
the cross, " Pater, dimitte illis, quia nesciunt 
quid faciunt." 

All these Sir Thomas's speeches were faith- 
fully delivered from Sir Anthony Saintleger, 
Richard Hay wood, and John Webbe, gentle- 
men, with others more of good credit, who 
were present and heard all, which they reported 
to my uncle Roper, agreeing all in one dis- 

* As much is said on the want of distinct information, re- 
specting the charges on which More was tried and convicted, 
I annex the words of Roper, which are more express than 
those of our author. " Thus much touching Sir Thomas 
More's arraignment, being not there present myself, have I by 
the credible report of the Right Worshipful Sir Anthony Saint- 
leger, and partly of Richard Hay wood and John Webb, gen- 



After his condemnation,, he was conducted 
from the bar to the Tower again, an axe being 
carried before him with the edge towards him, 
and was led by Sir William Kingston, a tall, 
strong, and comely gentleman, constable of the 
Tower, and his very good friend ; but presently 
a doleful spectacle was presented to Sir Thomas 
and all the standers by, for his only son, my 
grand-father, like a dutiful child, casteth himself 
at his father's feet, craving humbly his blessing, 
not without tears, whom he blessed and kissed 
most lovingly, whose love and obedience Sir 
Thomas after in a letter praised, saying, that this 
his behaviour pleased him greatly. 

When Sir William had conducted Sir Tho- 
mas to the Old Swan, towards the Tower, there 
he bade him farewell with a heavy heart, the tears 
appearing down his cheeks; but Sir Thomas, with 
a staid gravity, seeing him sorrowful, began to 
comfort him with these cheerful speeches, saying, 
" Good Mr. Kingston, trouble not yourself, but be 
of good cheer, for I will pray for you, and my 
good lady your wife, that we may meet in heaven 
together, where we shall be merry for ever and 
ever." Soon after this Sir William, talking hereof 

tlemen, v.-ith others of good credit, at the hearing thereof pre- 
sent themselves, as far forth as my poor wit and memory would 
serve me, here truly rehearsed unto you." Singer's edition, 
p. 89. 


to my uncle Roper, said, " In good faith, Mr. 
Roper, I was ashamed of myself, that at our part- 
ing I found my heart so weak and his so stout, 
that he was fain to comfort me, who should rather 
at that time have comforted him ; but God, and 
the clearness of his conscience is a comfort, 
which no earthly prince can give or take away."* 
When Sir Thomas was come now to the 

* The Old Swan, the place at which Sir William King- 
ston parted from this illustrious victim of an unrighteous sen- 
tence is named by Roper, from whom More has the circum- 
stance. It is, I presume, the place mentioned by Stowe, 
London, p. 185. If so, it was near adjoining the school of 
St. Anthony, the scene of More's early studies. How much 
might memory there supply to contrast with his present con- 
dition. How does it add to the reason we have to admire the 
equanimity of this genuine philosopher, as well as true Chris- 
tian hero, who, at such a moment, and in such a place, could 
give the consolation which he seemed rather to require. 

I cannot forbear, as pertinent to this circumstance in the 
life of More, to quote the following lines from Mr. Landor's 
truly philosophic work, the Imaginary Conversations of Lite- 
rary Men, where they are attributed, I think erroneously, to 

How much is lost when neither heart nor eye, 

Rose-winged desire or fabling hope deceives ; 
When boyhood, with quick throb, hath ceased to spy 

The dubious apple in the yellow leaves. 
When springing from the turf where youth reposed, 

We find but deserts in the far-sought shore ; 
When the huge book of Faery-land lies closed, 
And those strong brazen clasps will yield DO more. 


Tower-wharf, his best beloved child, my aunt 
Roper,, desirous to see her father, whom she 
feared she should never see in this world after, 
to have his last blessing, gave there attendance 
to meet him ; whom as soon as she had espied, 
after she had received upon her knees his fa- 
therly blessing, she ran hastily unto him, and 
without consideration of care of herself, passing 
through the midst of the throng and guard of 
men who, with bills and halberts compassed 
him round, there openly in the sight of them 
all embraced him, took him about the neck and 
kissed him, not able to say any word but " Oh, 
my father ! Oh, my father !" He liking well 
her most natural and dear affection towards 
him, gave her his fatherly blessing ; telling her, 
that whatsoever he should suffer, though he 
were innocent, yet it was not without the will 
of God ; and that he knew well enough all the 
secrets of his heart, counselling her to accom- 
modate her will to God's blessed pleasure, and 
to be patient for her loss. She was no sooner 
parted from him, and had gone scarce ten steps, 
when she, not satisfied with the former farewell, 
like one who had forgot herself, ravished with 
the entire love of so worthy a father, having 
neither respect to herself, nor to the press 
of people about him, suddenly turned back, 
and ran hastily to him, took him about the 


neck, and divers times together kissed him ; 
whereat he spoke not a word, but carrying still 
his gravity, tears fell also from his eyes ; yea, 
there were very few in all the troop who could 
refrain hereat from weeping, no not the guard 
themselves ; yet at last, with a full heavy heart, 
she was severed from him ; at which time Mar- 
garet Giggs embraced him, and kissed him also ; 
yea, mine aunt's maid, Dorothy Collie, did 
the like ; of whom he said after, it was homely* 
but very lovingly done. All these, and also 
my grand-father, witnessed, that they smelt 
a most odoriferous smell to come from him, 
according to that of Isaac, " Odor filii mei, sicut 
odor agri pleni, cui benedixit Dominus." 

Oh, what a spectacle was this, to see a 
woman, of nature shamefaced, by education 
modest, to express such excessive grief, as that 
love should make her shake off all fear and 
shame ! which doleful sight, piercing the hearts 
of all beholders, how do you think it moved her 
father's ? Surely his affection and forcible love, 
would have daunted his courage, if that a divine 
spirit of constancy had not inspired him to be- 
hold this most generous woman, his most worthy 
daughter, endowed with all good gifts of nature, 
all sparks of piety, which are wont to be most 
acceptable to a loving father, to press unto him 
at such a time and place, where no man could 


have access, hanging about his neck before he 
perceived, holding so fast by him, as she could 
scarce be plucked off, not uttering any other 
words but " Oh, my father!" What a sword 
was this to his heart ! And at last, being drawn 
away by force, to run upon him again, without 
any regard, either of the weapons wherewith he 
was compassed, or of the modesty becoming 
her own sex. What comfort did he want! 
What courage did he then stand in need of! 
And yet he resisted all this most courageously, 
remitting nothing of his steady gravity, speak- 
ing only that which we have recited before, 
and at last beseeching her to pray for her father's 

This and other his heroical acts, made Car- 
dinal Pole write thus of him : 

" Strangers, and men of other nations, that 
never had seen him in their lives, received so 
niuch grief at the hearing of his death, and read- 
ing the story thereof, that they could not refrain 
from weeping, bewailing an unknown person, 
only famous unto them for his worthy acts. Yea," 
saith he, " I cannot hold myself from weeping 
as I write, though I be far off my country. I 
loved him dearly, who had not so many urgent 
causes of his love, as many others had, only in 
respect of his virtues and heroical acts, for 
which he was a most necessary member of his 


country. And now, God is my witness, I shed 
for him, even whether I would or no, so many 
tears that they hinder me from writing, and 
often hlot out the letters quite, which I am 
framing, that I can proceed no farther." 

So remained this unconquerable conqueror 
of the flesh, the world, and the devil, some 
sevennight after his judgment, in the Tower, 
arming himself with prayer, meditation, and many 
holy mortifications, for the day of his martyrdom, 
and walking about his chamber with a sheet 
about him, like a corpse ready to be buried, and 
using to whip himself very sore and long. 

In this time there came to him a light-headed 
courtier, talking of no serious matter, but 
only urging him this, that he would change 
his mind ; and being wearied with his impor- 
tunity, he answered him that he had changed 
it : who presently went and told the king 
thereof; and being by him commanded to 
know wherein his mind was changed, Sir Tho- 
mas rebuked him for his lightness, in that he 
would tell the king of every word that he spoke 
in jest, " For my meaning was," said he, " that 
whereas I had purposed to have been shaven, 
that I might seem to others as I before was 
wont ; my mind is changed, for that I intend my 
beard shall take such part as my head doth ;" 


which made the courtier blank, and the king very 

In this while also he wrote a most kind letter 
unto Mr. Anthony Bonvise, an Italian merchant,, 
in Latin, calling him the half of his heart ; which 
is to be seen among his other letters. Last of 
all, the day before he was to suffer, being the 5th 
of July, he wrote a most loving letter with a 
coal, to his daughter Margaret, sending therein 
his blessing to all his children, in which he 
writeth (knowing nothing of the time of his de- 
parture then) very affectionately in these words : 
" I cumber thee, daughter Margaret, very much ; 
but I would be sorry that it should be any longer 
than to-morrow, for to-morrow is Saint Thomas, 
of Canterbury's eve, and the octaves of Saint 
Peter ; therefore to-morrow long I to go to God ; 
it were a day very meet and convenient. I never 
liked your manner towards me better than when 
you kissed me last. For I like when daughterly 
love and dear charity have no leisure to look 
unto worldly courtesy. Farewell, dear daughter, 
pray for me and I will pray for you and all your 
friends, that we may meet together in heaven. 
Commend me, when you can, to my son John ; 
his towardly carriage towards me pleased me 
very much. God bless him and his good wife, 
and their children, Thomas," (who was my 


father) " and Augustine," (who died unmarried) 
" and all that they shall have." In which words 
I hope, by God's help, to have some part of his 
blessing. But, oh good God ! " voluntate labio- 
runi ejus non fraudasti eum." For upon the 
eve of his special patron, and the octaves of 
Saint Peter, for whose supremacy he suffered 
martyrdom,, God heard his petition, and he 
suffered death most courageously. Together 
with this letter, he sent unto her his shirt 
of hair, and his whip, as one that was loth to 
have the world know that he used such auste- 
rity. For he cunningly, all his lifetime, had 
with his mirth hidden from the eyes of others 
his severe mortifications; and now having 
finished his combat, he sent away his weapons, 
not being certain of any notice of the king's 
mind, but either taught by revelation, or having 
a firm confidence of God's great goodness, " et 
desiderium cordis tribuit ei Dominus." 

For upon the next morning, being Tuesday 
the 6th of July, there came unto him Sir Tho- 
mas Pope, very early in the morning, his sin- 
gular good friend, with a message from the king 
and the council, that he was to suffer death on 
that day, before nine of the clock, and therefore 
he should forthwith prepare himself thereto. 
" Mr. Pope," said he, " I most heartily thank 
you for your good tidings. I have been much 


bound to the king's highness, for the benefits 
and honours that he hath most bountifully be- 
stowed upon me ; yet am I more bound to his 
grace, I assure you, for putting me here, where 
I have had convenient time and space to have 
remembrance of my end. And so help me God, 
most of all I am bound unto him, that it pleaseth 
his majesty to rid me so shortly out of the mise- 
ries of this wretched world." " The king's pleasure 
further is," said Sir Thomas Pope, " that you 
use not many words at your execution." " Mr. 
Pope," answered he, " you do well to give me 
warning of the king's pleasure, for otherwise I 
had purposed at that time somewhat to have 
spoken ; but no matter wherewith his grace, or 
any other should have cause to be offended ; 
howbeit, whatsoever I intended, I am ready 
obediently to conform myself to his highness's 
command. And I beseech you, good Mr. Pope, 
be a means to his majesty, that my daughter 
Margaret may be at my burial." " The king is 
contented already," said he, " that your wife, 
children, and other your friends should have 
liberty to be present at it." " Oh how much am 
I beholding to his grace, that vouchsafeth to 
have so much consideration of my poor burial." 
Then Sir Thomas Pope taking his leave of him, 
could not refrain from weeping. Which Sir 
Thomas perceiving, comforted him in these 


words : " Quiet yourself, Mr. Pope, and be not 
discomforted ; for I trust we shall once see each 
other full merrily, where we shall be sure to live 
and love together in eternal bliss." And further, 
to put him out of his melancholy, Sir Thomas 
More took his urinal in his hand, and casting his 
water, said merrily," I see no danger but this man 
ina\' live longer, if it please the king." 

After which words they parted ; and when 
he was gone, Sir Thomas, as one that had been 
invited to a solemn banquet, changed himself 
into his best apparel, and put on his silk camlet 
gown, which his entire friend, Mr. Anthony Bon- 
vise, (a noble citizen of the state of Lucca, in 
Italy, to whom he wrote the letter as is late 
spoken of before,) gave him, whilst he was in 
the Tower. Mr. Lieutenant seeing him prepare 
himself so to his death, counselled him, for his 
own benefit, to put them off again, saying, that 
he who should have them was but a javill. "What 
Mr. Lieutenant," said Sir Thomas, " shall I ac- 
count him a javill, who will do me this day so 
singular a benefit. Nay, I assure you, were it 
cloth of gold, I would think it well bestowed on 
him. For Saint Cyprian, that famous Bishop of 
Carthage, gave his executioner thirty pieces of 
gold, because he knew he should procure unto 
him an unspeakable good turn." Yet for all 
this, Mr. Lieutenant so pressed him, that at last 


being loth, for friendship's sake, to deny him so 
small a matter, he altered his gown, and put on 
a gown of friese ; but yet he sent of that little 
money which was left him, one angel of gold, 
to the hangman, in token that he maliced 
him nothing, but rather loved him exceedingly 
for it. 

He was therefore brought about nine of the 
clock, by Mr. Lieutenant, out of the Tower, his 
beard being long, which fashion he never had 
before used, his face pale and lean, carrying in 
his hands a red cross, casting his eyes often 
towards heaven. As he thus passed by a good 
woman's house, she came forth and offered him 
a cup of wine,* which he refused, saying, " Christ 
at his passion drank no wine, but gall and vine- 
gar." There came another woman after him, 
crying unto him for certain books, which she 
had given into his custody when he was Lord 
Chancellor ; to whom he said, " Good woman, 
have patience but for one hour's space, and by 

* It appears to have been the practice of the times to offer 
meat and drink to persons condemned to die, when on the way 
to execution. At York a cup of ale was presented. At Paris 
the procession usually stopped at the Cour de Filles Dieu, 
where the criminal kissed the crucifix, received the aspersion, 
eat three morsels of bread, and drank a glass of wine. The 
custom might originate in a humane feeling ; but it is probable 
that there is an allusion in it to the potion presented to our 
Saviour on the cross. 


that time the king's majesty will rid me of the 
care 4 I have of thy papers, and all other mat- 
ters whatsoever." Another woman, suborned 
thereto, as some think, by his adversaries, to 
disgrace him, followed him also, crying out 
against him, that he had done her great injury, 
when he had been Lord Chancellor; to whom he 
gave the answer, " that he remembered her 
cause very well ; and that if he were now to 
give sentence therein, he would not alter what 
he had already done." 

Last of all there came a citizen of Winches- 
ter, who in times past, having been greatly 
troubled with grievous temptations of despair, 
was brought by a friend of his to Sir Thomas 
More, when he was Lord Chancellor ; who, 
though he could not before, by any wholesome 
counsel alter this his mind, yet Sir Thomas 
More promising him to pray for him, he was for 
the space of three years free from all such 
temptations. When Sir Thomas was committed, 
and he could get no leave to have access unto 
him, his temptations grew so great, that he 
often sought to have been the cruel murderer 
of himself; but now hearing Sir Thomas was to 
be executed, he came to London, and ran to 
Sir Thomas as he was carried to execution, 
desiring him with great earnestness that he 
would help him by his prayers, for his temp- 


tation was come again unto him, and he could 
not possibly rid himself thereof; to whom Sir 
Thomas spake thus : " Go and pray for me,, and 
I will carefully pray for you." He went away 
with confidence, and he never after was troubled 
with the like again. 

Being now brought to the scaffold, whereon 
he was to be beheaded, it seemed to him so 
weak that it was ready to fall ; wherefore he 
said merrily to Mr. Lieutenant, " I pray you, Sir, 
see me safe up, and for my coming down let me 
shift for myself." When he began to speak a 
little to the people, which were in great troops 
there to hear and see him, he was interrupted 
by the sheriff; wherefore briefly he desired all 
the people to pray for him, and to bear witness 
with him, that he there died in and for the faith 
of the holy Catholic Church, a faithful servant 
both of God and the king. Having spoken but 
this, he kneeled down, and pronounced with 
great devotion the " Miserere" psalm, which 
being ended, he cheerfully rose up, and the 
executioner asking him forgiveness, he kissed 
him, saying, " Thou wilt do me this day a greater 
benefit than ever any mortal man can be able to 
give me. Pluck up thy spirit, man, and be not 
afraid to do thy office ; my neck is very short ; 
take heed therefore that thou strike not awry, 
for saving thy honesty." When the executioner 


would have covered his eyes, he said, " I will 
cover them myself;" and presently he did so, 
with a cloth that he had brought with him for 
the purpose ; then laying his head upon the 
block, he bade the executioner stay until he 
had removed his beard aside ; saying, " That 
had never committed treason." So with great 
alacrity and spiritual joy, he received the fatal 
axe, which no sooner had severed the head 
from the body, but his soul was carried by 
angels into everlasting glory, where a crown 
of martyrdom was put upon him which can 
never fade nor decay. And then he found 
those words true which he had often spoken, 
that a man may lose his head and have no harm ; 
yea, I say, unspeakable good and endless hap- 

When news of his death was brought to the 
king, who was at that time playing at tables, 
Anne Bullen looking on, he cast his eye upon 
her and said, " Thou art the cause of this man's 
death ;" and presently leaving his play he betook 
himself to his chamber, and thereupon fell into a 
fit of melancholy ; but whether this were from 
his heart, or to seem less cruel than he was 
indeed, I can hardly conjecture; for on the one 
side the remembrance of his faithful service, so 
many years employed for the whole realm's 
benefit, could not but make the king sorrowful ; 


and on the other side, his unmerciful dealing 
with his son and heir, his small allowance to his 
wife, his pitiless cruelty against all his children, 
showeth that he had an implacable hatred against 
him, because he would not consent unto his lust- 
ful courses ; of which we will speak more largely, 
when we have discoursed of his burial. 

His head was put upon London-bridge, where 
traitors' heads are set up upon poles ;* his body 
was buried in the chapel of St. Peter in the 
Tower, in the belfrey, or as some say, as one 
entereth into the vestry ,f near unto the body of 
the holy martyr Bishop Fisher, who being put to 
death just a fortnight before, had small respect 
done unto him all this while. 

But that which happened about Sir Thomas' 
winding sheet, was reported as a miracle by my 
aunt Roper, Mrs. Clement, and Dorothy Collie, 
wife unto Mr. Harris. Thus it was : his daughter 
Margaret, having distributed all her money to 
the poor, for her father's soul, when she came to 
bury his body at the Tower she had forgotten to 
bring a sheet ; and there was not a penny of 

* The author of the " Expositio Fidelis de Morte D. Thomee 
Mori," relates a horrible circumstance. " Priusquam expone- 
i-etur, aqua ferventi decoctum est, quo plus haberet horroris." 
The head of Sir Thomas More! Well might a foreigner con- 
templating this circumstance and the punishment denounced 
in his sentence, brand Henry with the name of another Phalaris. 

f This clause is wanting in the Manuscript. 


money left amongst them all; wherefore Mrs. 
Harris went to the next draper's shop, and 
agreeing upon the price, made as though she 
would look for some money in her purse, and 
then try whether they would trust her or no ; 
and she found in her purse the same sum 
for which they agreed, not one penny over or 
under; though she knew before, certainly, that 
she had not one cross about her. This the 
same Dorothy affirmed constantly to Doctor 
Stapleton, when they both lived at Doway, in 
Flanders, in Queen Elizabeth's reign. His shirt, 
wherein he suffered, all embrued with his blood^ 
was kept very carefully by Doctor Clement's wife, 
living also beyond the seas, as also his shirt of 
hair. His head having remained about a month 
upon London-bridge, and being to be cast into 
the Thames, because room should be made for 
divers others, who in plentiful sort suffered mar- 
tyrdom for the same supremacy, shortly after, it 
was bought by his daughter Margaret, lest (as 
she stoutly affirmed before the council, being 
called before them after for the same matter) it 
should be food for fishes ; which she buried, 
where she thought fittest ; it was very well to 
be known, as well by the lively favour of him 
which was not all this while in any thing almost 
diminished ; as also by reason of one tooth, 
which he wanted whilst he lived ; herein it was 


to be admired, that the hairs of his beard being 
almost grey before his martyrdom, they seemed 
now as it were reddish or yellow. 

His glorious death and martyrdom, strength- 
ened many to suffer courageously for the same 
cause, because he was an eminent man both for 
dignities, learning, and virtue ; so that Doctor 
Stapleton boldly affirmeth, that he was wonder- 
fully both admired and sought to be imitated by 
many, as he himself had heard, when he came 
first to the years of understanding and discretion. 
And truly German Gardiner, an excellent learned 
and holy layman, coming to suffer death for the 
same supremacy some eight years after, avouched 
at his end, before all the people, that the holy 
simplicity of the blessed Carthusians, the wonder- 
ful learning of the bishop of Rochester, and the 
singular wisdom of Sir Thomas More, had stirred 
him up to that courage ; but the rest seemed 
not so much to be imitated of laymen, being all 
belonging to the clergy, as this famous man, who 
had been clogged with wife and children. Yea 
his death so wrought in the mind of Doctor 
Learcke, his own parish-priest, that he, follow- 
ing the example of his own sheep, afterwards 
suffered a most famous martyrdom for the same 
cause of supremacy. 

Thus have we, according to our poor talent, 
laboured to set down briefly the life and death 


of Sir Thomas More, my most famous great 
grandfather ; whose prayers and intercessions I 
daily crave both for myself and all my little ones, 
who are also part of his charge, because he 
gave them his blessing, in his most affectionate 
letter : viz. " God bless Thomas and Augustine, 
and all that they shall have :" immediate or me- 
diate ; those which they shall have, usque ad 
mille generationes, if it were needful. This hath 
been our comfort, that the trial thereof hath been 
evidently shown in that Edward, Thomas, and 
Bartholomew, my father's brethren, being born 
after my great-grandfather's death, and having 
not this blessing so directly, as my father and my 
uncle Augustine, they have degenerated both from 
that religion and those manners, which Sir Tho- 
mas More had left as it were a happy depositum 
unto his children and family. For although 
mine uncle Bartholomew died young of the 
plague in London, and therefore might have 
by the grace of God excuse and remorse at 
his end; yet Thomas the younger's courses 
were far different ; for he lived and died a 
professed minister, and for all that very poor, 
bringing up his children, whereof his eldest son 
is yet living, in no commendable profession. 
As for mine uncle Edward, who is yet alive, 
although he were endowed with excellent gifts 
of nature, as a ready wit, tongue at will, and his 


pen glib ; yet,, God knows, he hath drowned all 
his talents in self-conceit in no worthy qualities,, 
and besides burieth himself alive in obscurity^ 
in forsaking God,, and his mean and base beha- 
viour. My father only right heir of his father 
and grandfather,, though he not long enjoyed 
any of their lands, was a lively pattern unto us of 
his constant faith, his worthy and upright deal- 
ings, his true catholic simplicity, of whom I have 
a purpose to discourse unto my children more at 
large, that they may know in what hard times 
he lived, and how manfully he sustained the 
combat, which his father and grandfather had 
left unto him as their best inheritance : for all 
their land was taken away by two acts of par- 
liament immediately after Sir Thomas's death ; 
the one act was to take away lands, which the 
king had given him, and this was somewhat tole- 
rable ; the other most violent and tyrannical, to 
frustrate utterly a most provident conveyance, 
which Sir Thomas had made of all his lands 
and inheritance, which he had settled upon my 
father, being a child of two years old or more, 
without any fraud or covin, even when as yet no 
statute had been made about the oath of supre- 
macy ; and therefore before Sir Thomas could 
commit any such fault against such a statute, 
much less treason, having reserved to himself 
only an estate for term of life ; yet all this 


sl taken away contrary to all order of law, 
and joined to the crown : but that land, which 
he had conveyed to my uncle Roper and mine 
aunt, for term of their lives in recompence of 
their marriage money, that they kept still, be- 
cause that was done two days before the first 
conveyance. The lady More also, his wife, was 
turned out of her house at Chelsey immediately, 
and all her goods taken from her, the king 
allotting her of his mercy a pension of twenty 
pounds by the year ; a poor allowance to main- 
tain a lord chancellor's lady. My grandfather 
was committed also to the Tower, and for deny- 
ing the same oath, was condemned ; yet because 
they had sufficiently fleeced him before, and 
could get little by his death, he got at last his 
pardon and liberty, but lived not many years 
after, leaving my father to the education of 
his mother, called before her marriage Anne 
Cresacre, the last of her family, by whose match 
he enjoyed after a competent living to keep him 
out of a needy life. Mine aunt Roper, because 
she was a woman, was not so hardly dealt withal, 
but only threatened very sore, both because she 
kept her father's head for a relic, and that she 
meant to set her father's works in print, yet for 
all that after a short imprisonment she was at 
last sent home to her husband. Thus all his 


friends felt in part the king's heavy anger for his 
undaunted courage. 

Sir Thomas was of a mean stature, well pro- 
portioned, his complexion tending to phlegmatic, 
his colour white and pale, his hair neither black 
nor yellow, but between both ; his eyes grey, his 
countenance amiable and cheerful, his voice 
neither big nor shrill, but speaking plainly and 
distinctly ; it was not very tunable, though he 
delighted much in music ; his body reasonably 
healthful, only that towards his latter time, by 
using much to write, he complained much of the 
ache of his breast. In his youth he drunk 
much water ; wine he only tasted of when he 
pledged others ; he loved salt meats, especially 
powdered beef ; he loved also milk, cheese, eggs 
and fruit; and usually he eat coarse brown 
bread, which it may be he rather used to punish 
his taste, than for any love he had thereto ; for 
he was singular wise to deceive the world with 
mortifications, only contenting himself with the 
knowledge which God had of his actions : " et 
pater ejus, qui erat in abscondito, reddidit ei." 



[^U OW let us see, what most of the 
learned men of Christendom, not 
only catholics, but also protest- 
ants, thought and wrote of King 
Henry, for Sir Thomas More's death, who were 
not likely, being free from all partiality, but to 
speak their minds sincerely, not fearing him as 
his subjects, nor hating him for any private 
respects. First, Cardinal Pole, then living in 
the court of Rome, and writing to the king in 
the defence of ecclesiastical unity, saith thus by 
the figure of apostrophe, of the complaints of 
other men : " Thy father, oh England,* thy 
ornament, thy defence, was brought to his death, 
being innocent in thy sight ; by birth, thy 

* It is observed by the former editor, that More has been 
here led into a mistake, by following- Stapleton. The apos- 
trophe was not to England, but to London. The passage 
occurs in Cardinal Pole's " Britannise pro Ecclesiae unitate 
Defensio." Lib. iii. p. 66-67. More has not done justice in 
his translation to a truly eloquent passage. 


child ; by condition,, thy citizen, but thy father 
for the many benefits done unto thee ; for he 
showed more evident signs of his fatherly love 
towards thee, than ever any loving father hath 
expressed to his only and truly beloved child ; 
yet in nothing hath he more declared his fatherly 
affection, than by his end, for that he left his life 
for thy sake ; especially lest he should over- 
throw and betray thy salvation. Wherefore 
that which we read in the ancient stories of 
Greece, as touching Socrates, whom the Athe- 
nians condemned most unjustly to take poison, 
so thou hast now seen thy Socrates, beheaded 
before thine eyes. A while after his death, when 
in a play there was recited out of a tragedy these 
words : ' You have slain, you have slain the best 
man of all Greece ;' then upon these words 
every man so lamented the death of Socrates, 
calling to mind that injustice, although the poet 
himself dreamed least of him, that the whole 
theatre was filled with nothing else, but tears 
and howlings, for which cause the people 
presently revenged his death, by punishing 
grievously the chief authors thereof ; those that 
were of them to be found, were put to death 
presently, and they that could not be found out, 
were banished. There waa-lso a statue erected 
in his honour, in the very market-place. If they 
therefore at the only hearing of these words upon 


the stage took an occasion to be revenged of 
that most innocent man's slaughter ; what more 
just cause mayst thou, London, have of compas- 
sion and revenge, hearing the like words to these, 
not pronounced only hv any stage-player at 
home, hut by most grave and reverend men in 
all places of Christendom, when as they speak 
most seriously, exprobating often unto thee 
thine ingratitude, and saying : ' You have slain, 
you have slain the best Englishman alive.' " 
This spoke this learned and wise cardinal, who 
could testify this of his knowledge, by reason he 
conversed often with the greatest states of 
Christendom, being a man famous amongst 
them for nobility of blood, for his dignity, his 
learning and excellent virtues, for which none 
have cause to suspect him to be partial. 

Erasmus as may be easily guessed by the stile 
although he wrote it not in his own name, because 
he had then many friends in England saith thus, 
" This is evident, that neither More nor the 
Bishop of Rochester erred at all for any 
malice they had against the king, but for sin- 
cere conscience' sake: this they persuaded them- 
selve> wholly, this was infixed in their marrows, 
that the matter which they defended was good 
and lawful and honourable for the king, and 
wholesome for all the whole kingdom. If it had 
been lawful for them to have dissembled it, they 


would have done it willingly ; but they took their 
death most patiently and peaceably, praying to 
God for the king and the whole realm's safety. 
In heinous offences, a simple and pure con- 
science, and a mind not desirous of hurting any, 
but of well deserving, excuseth much the fault ; 
besides due respect and honour hath been always 
had, even amongst barbarous nations, to eminent 
learning and excellent virtue. The very name 
of a philosopher rescued Plato from being be- 
headed by the ^Eginetes, having transgressed 
the laws of their city. Diogenes, without any 
fear, came into Philip king of Macedonia's army, 
and being brought before him for a spy of their 
enemies, freely reproached the king to his face 
of madness, that being not content with his own 
kingdom, he would cast himself into danger to 
lose all; yet was he sent away without any 
harm at all done to him, and not only so, but 
had a great reward given him, for no other cause 
but that he was a philosopher. And as the 
courtesies of monarchs showed unto learned 
men, do get them great fame, so to have used 
such men hardly, hath been occasion, that they 
have been much hated and envied. For who 
doth not hate Antony, for having Cicero's head 
cut off! Who doth not detest Nero for 
putting Seneca to death ; yea Octavius in- 
curred some infamy for Ovid's banishment 


amongst the Getes. When Lewis the Twelfth 
of France, now being peaceably settled in his 
kingdom, would have been divorced from his 
wife, tin- daughter of Lewis the Eleventh, this 
matter displeased many good men, and amongst 
them John Standock ; and his scholar Thomas, 
spake of it a sermon, desiring the people to pray 
to God, that he would inspire the king to do for 
the best ; they were therefore accused of sedi- 
tion, as men that had committed a fault against 
the king's edict; yet for all this they had no 
other punishment but banishment. They kept 
and enjoyed all their goods, and when the con- 
troversies were ended, they were called home 
again with honour. By this mildness the king 
both satisfied his edict, and got no great hatred 
for molesting two men, both divines, both ac- 
counted holy men. But every man bewaileth 
the death of Sir Thomas More, even they who 
are adversaries unto him for religion, so great 
was his courtesy to all men ; so great his affa- 
bility, so excellent was his nature. Whom did 
he ever send away from him, if he were any 
thing learned, without gifts ? or who was so 
great a stranger unto him, to whom he did not 
seek to do one good turn or other ? Many are 
favourable only to their own countrymen ; 
Frenchmen to Frenchmen, Scottishmen to 
Scots. This his bounty hath so engraven More 


in every man's heart, that they all lament his 
death as the loss of their own father or brother. 
I myself have seen many tears come from those 
men who never saw More in their lives, nor 
never received any benefit from him ; yea, whilst 
I write these things, tears gush from me, whether 
I will or no. How many souls hath that axe 
wounded, which cut off More's head !" &c. And 
a little after, pulling off his vizard, he showeth 
himself Erasmus in these words, " Therefore 
when men have congratulated me, that I had 
such a friend placed in such high dignities, I 
am wont to answer, that I would not congra- 
tulate his increase of honour, before he should 
command me to do so." * 

John Cochleus, a most learned German, and 
a great divine, writing against Richard Sampson, 
an Englishman, who defended king Henry the 

* This is translated from the Epistola Fidelis de Morte D. 
Thomse Mori, et Episcopi Roffensis insignium virorum in 
Anglia, which was first printed at Antwerp in 1536, the year 
after the death of these illustrious men. It has been gene- 
rally attributed to Erasmus, as it is by More. It is written, 
however, in the name of Courinus Nucerinus : Nomen'fictum 
pro Erasmo ut aliqui putant, says one of its editors. But 
Nucerinus seems rather to guide us to Paulus Jovius as the 
author, who was Bishop of Nuceria. This letter, one of the 
most honourable tributes to the memory of More, forms the 
twentieth article of Mr. Singer's Appendix to the Life by 


Eighth for this fact, saith much of Sir Thomas's 
praises ; at last, speaking of his death, he saith 
thus to King Henry's counsellors: " What 
praise or honour could you get by that cruelty, 
which you exercised against Sir Thomas More ? 
He was a man of known and most laudable 
humanity, mild behaviour, affability, bounty, 
eloquence, wisdom, innocency of life, wit, learn- 
ing, exceedingly beloved and admired of all 
men ; in dignity, besides, highest judge of your 
country, and next to the king himself; famous 
from his youth ; beneficial to his country for many 
embassages, and now most venerable for his 
grey head, drawing towards old age ; who having 
obtained of the king an honourable dismission 
from his office, lived privately at home with his 
wife, children, and nephews ; having never com- 
mitted the least offence against any, burdensome 
to no man, ready to help every body, mild and 
pleasant of disposition. You have given coun- 
sel to have this so good a man drawn out of his 
own house, out of that sweet academy of learned 
and devout Christian philosophers, for no other 
cause but this, that he would not justify your 
impieties ; his guiltless conscience resisting it, 
the fear of God, and his soul's health with- 
drawing him from it. Do you believe that this 
your wicked fact hath ever pleased any one of 
what nation, sex, or age soever ? or ever will 


please any ? It will not surely. You have 
hurt yourselves more than him, because you 
have made yourselves murderers, and guilty 
of shedding most innocent blood. Him have 
you made most grateful to God, to the citizens 
of heaven, and to all just men on earth, and a 
most renowned martyr of Christ ; he liveth and 
reigneth without all doubt with Almighty God. 
You will never be able to blot out this fault and 
infamy. It is written of God, ' He knoweth the 
deceiver, and him that is deceived ; he will 
bring counsellors to a foolish end, judges into 
amazement. He unlooseth the belt of kings, 
and girdeth their loins with a rope.'" Thus 
writeth Cochleus. 

Paulus Jovius, Bishop of Nuceria, amongst 
the praises of divers learned men, writeth thus 
of Sir Thomas More's unjust death : " Fortune, 
fickle and unconstant, after her accustomed 
manner, and always hating virtue, if ever she 
played the part of a proud and cruel dame, she 
hath lately behaved herself most cruelly in 
England, under Henry the Eighth, casting down 
before her Thomas More, whom the king, 
whilst he was an excellent admirer of virtue, 
had raised to the highest places of honour in 
his realm; that from thence, being by fatal 
madness changed into a beast, he might sud-r 
denly throw him down again with great cruelty, 


because he would not favour the unsatiable lust 
of that furious tyrant ; and for that he would 
not flatter him in his wickedness, being a man 
most eminent for the accomplishment of all 
parts of justice, and most saintly in all kind of 
virtues. For when the king would be divorced 
from his lawful wife, marry a quean, and hasten 
to disinherit, with shame his lawful daughter, 
(Marie) More, Lord Chancellor, was forced to 
appear at the bar, guilty only for his piety and 
innocence, and there was condemned most 
wrongfully to a most cruel and shameful death, 
like a traitor and a murderer, so that it was not 
lawful for his friends to bury his dismembered 
members. But Henry for this fact, an imitator 
of Phalaris, shall never be able to bereave him of 
perpetual fame by this his unlawful wickedness, 
but that the name of More shall enjoy constant 
honour, by his famous Utopia." He speaketh of 
death, as his sentence did purport. 

Now let us join to these, viz. an Englishman, 
a Low-Country man, a German, and an Italian, 
a Frenchman also, that we may see how all 
nations did lament Sir Thomas More's death, 
and what credit the king and his council there- 
unto got by it. William Paradine writeth thus : 
" The troubles and civil dissensions in England, 
now had lasted a year or two, when in the 
month of July, John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, 


was committed prisoner in London, because be 
seemed to disallow the king's divorce, and the 
law newly made against the pope's supremacy. 
Of that resolution was also Sir Thomas More 
partaker, being sheriff of London, a man famous 
for eloquence, and all manner of learning ; 
above the reach of all lawyers most expert and 
skilful ; most faultless in all his deeds. These 
two, purposing rather to obey God than men, 
and confirming their minds with constancy, were 
condemned to death : from which constancy 
they could be drawn neither by entreaties, hope 
of rewards, fair promises, nor by any threats 
whatsoever, which corporal death both of them 
received most patiently and stoutly." Finally, 
every writer of that age lamentably deplored the 
unjust death of Sir Thomas More. Roverus 
Pontanus, a German, in his Index of memorable 
matters ; Laurence Surius, a Low-Country man, 
upon the year of 1535 ; John Fontayne, a French- 
man, in his French history ; and most abun- 
dantly Onuphrius Patavinus in Paulo, ca. 3. An 
Italian, Nicolas, Cardinal of Capua, in his 
French letters ; John Secundus of Hague, yea 
Carion and Sleidan himself speak honourably of 
Sir Thomas More's death. 

But of all Protestants John Rivius speaketh 
most passionately of King Henry's cruel fact 
and Sir Thomas's piety, in these words (lib. 2, 


De Conscientia) : " He that is in a prince's 
court ought freely, if he be asked his judgment, 
rather to tell his mind plainly, what is most 
behoveful for his prince's good, than to speak 
placentia, tickling his ears with flattery ; neither 
ought he to praise things which are not praise- 
worthy, nor to dispraise matters that are worthy 
of high commendations ; yea, although he be in 
danger of getting no favour by persuading to it, 
but rather punishment and disgrace for gain- 
saying men's appetites ;" then bringing Papi- 
nianus, that great lawyer, for a lively example 
thereof, who chose rather to die than to justify 
the emperor Caracalla's killing of his own 
brother, against his own conscience, he addeth, 
" Such a man was lately in our memory 
that singular and excellent for learning and 
piety, yea the only ornament and glory of his 
country, Thomas More, who, because he would 
not agree to nor approve by his consent, against 
his own conscience, the new marriage of the 
King of England, who would needs be divorced 
from his first wife and marry another, he was 
first cast into prison ; one that had singularly 
well deserved of the king himself, and of Eng- 
land ; and when he constantly continued in 
his opinion, which he truly thought to be most 
just, most lawful, and godly, emboldened to 
defend it by a sincere conscience, he was put to 



death by that wicked parricide, that most hate- 
ful and cruel tyrant; a cruelty not heard of 
before in this our age. Oh ingratitude, and 
singular impiety of the king's ! who could 
endure to consume and macerate with a tedious 
and loathsome imprisonment, such a sincere 
and holy good man ; one that had been so care- 
ful of his glory, so studious of his country's 
profit. He that had persuaded him always 
to all justice and honesty, dissuaded him from 
all contraries, and not convinced of any crime, 
nor found in any fault, he slew him (oh, mise- 
rable wickedness !) not only being innocent, but 
him that had deserved high rewards, and his 
most faithful and trusty counsellor. Are these 
thy rewards, O king ? Is this the thanks thou 
returnest him for all his trusty service and good 
will unto thee ? Doth this man reap this com- 
modity for his most faithful acts and employ- 
ments ? But, Oh More, thou art now happy, 
and enjoy est eternal felicity, who wouldst lose 
thy head rather than approve any thing against 
thine own conscience ; who more esteemest 
righteousness, justice, and piety than life itself; 
and, whilst thou art deprived of this mortal life, 
thou passest to the true and immortal happiness 
of heaven ; whilst thou art taken away from 
men, thou art raised up amongst the numbers 
of holy saints and angels of bliss." 


Last of all, I will recount what the good 
emperor, Charles the Fifth, said unto Sir Tho- 
mas Elliot, then the king's ambassador in his 
court, after he had heard of Bishop Fisher and 
Sir Thomas More's martyrdoms, on a time he 
spoke of it to Sir Thomas Elliot, who seemed 
to excuse the matter by making some doubt of 
the report ; to whom the emperor replied, " It 
is too true ; but if we had had two such lights 
in all our kingdoms, as these men were, we 
could rather have chosen to have lost two of 
the best and strongest towns in all our empire, 
than suffer ourselves to be deprived of them, 
much less to endure to have them wrongfully 
taken from us." 

And although none of these should have 
written any thing hereof, yet the matter itself 
speaketh abundantly that the cause was most 
unjust, the manner thereof most infamous, and 
Sir Thomas More's patience most admirable ; 
his piety, his learning, his virtues incomparable. 
Famous was he for his noble martyrdom ; infa- 
mous King Henry for his most unjust condem- 
nation. These things do aggravate King 
Henry's fault; first, that he killed him by a 
law, wherein he never offended, either by 
word or deed, and by that which concerned 
not temporal policy, but religion only; not 
rebellious against the king, but fearful to offend 


his own conscience ; which, though he refused 
to approve, yet did he never reprove it, or any 
other man for taking it. Secondly, that he put 
to death so rare a man, so beloved of all, so 
virtuous, so wise, so courteous, and witty; which 
might be motives sufficient even to pardon a 
guilty offender. Thirdly, for beheading a man that 
had done him so much service, yea, the whole 
kingdom, such good offices; his faithful counsellor 
for twenty years together, his expert ambassador, 
his just Lord Chancellor, the very flower of his 
realm. Many things also do amplify and increase 
Sir Thomas More's immortal glory; first, in that 
to all the king's demands he had behaved himself 
so sincerely and impartially, opening his mind 
ingenuously, innocently, without fear, so that the 
king seemed still to like him, though his opinion 
were contrary to his liking. Secondly, that he 
had suffered already the loss of all his goods, 
being condemned to perpetual imprisonment, 
and only for silence. Thirdly, in that he took 
all crosses for the love of God most patiently. 
Fourthly, that he died for a controversy of reli- 
gion, never before called in question, by any 
precedent example. Finally, that he only of 
all the council would not flatter the king, 
nor keep either goods, dignity, or life, with 
the danger of the loss of his soul. All which 
prove what a rare man, how admirable and 


virtuous a Christian, and how glorious a martyr 
he is. 

But because one bald English chronicler, 
Hall, termeth him a scoffing man, because his 
writings and doings were full of witty jests, 
calling him a wise foolish man, or a foolish wise 
man, let us see by his own writings, the reason 
why he hath used so many pleasant tales in his 
books ; and it is this : " Even as some sick 
men," saith he, " will take no medicines, unless 
some pleasant thing be put among their potions, 
although perhaps it be somewhat hurtful, yet 
the physician suffereth them to have it. So 
because many will not willingly hearken to 
serious and grave documents, except they be 
mingled with some fable or jest, therefore reason 
willeth us to do the like." And in his great 
volume, page 1048, he saith, that " jests are 
as it were sauce, whereby we are recreated, that 
we may eat with more stomach ; but as that were 
an absurd banquet, in which there were few 
dishes of meat, and much variety of sauces, and 
that an unpleasant one, where there were no 
sauce at all ; even so that life were spent idly, 
wherein nothing were but mirth and jollity ; 
and again that tedious and uncomfortable, 
wherein no pleasure or mirth were to be ex- 
pected." Which mirth as it may become all 
men, so most especially did it become such a 


one as Sir Thomas More was, being a married 
man, yea a courtier, and a companion to a 
prince, of whom that may worthily be spoken, 
which Titus Livius recounteth of Cato, thus : 
" In this man there was such excellency of wit 
and wisdom, that he seemeth to have been able 
to have made his fortune, in what place soever 
he had been born ; he wanted no skill either for 
the managing of private or public business ; he 
was skilful both in country and city affairs ; 
some are raised to honour, either because they 
are excellent lawyers, singularly eloquent, or of 
admirable virtues ; but the towardliness of this 
man's understanding framed him so to all mat- 
ters, that you would deem him born for one 
alone. In the practice of virtues, you would 
judge him rather a monk than a courtier ; in 
learning a most famous writer. If you would 
ask his counsel in the law, he was most ready 
to advise you the best ; if he were to make an 
oration, he would show marvellous eloquence. 
He was admirable in all kind of learning, Latin, 
Greek, profane, divine. If there were an 
embassage to be undertook, none more dex- 
trous to finish it. In giving sound counsel in 
doubtful cases, none more prudent ; to tell the 
truth without fear, none more free ; as far from 
all flattery, as open and pleasant, full of grace 
in delivering his judgment," and that, which 


Cato had not, therein was he most happy ; for 
Livy saith, " That he had a sour carriage, and 
a tongue immoderate, free, and full of taunting;" 
but Sir Thomas being Christ's scholar, and not 
any stoic, was mild, and of humble heart, 
neither sad nor turbulent, and besides of a 
pleasant conversation, never stern but for righ- 
teousness ; a great contemner either of unlaw- 
ful pleasures, or of inordinate riches and glory. 
As Cato had much enmity with divers senators, 
so many of them on the other side did exercise 
his patience, that one can hardly discern whether 
the nobility did press him more, or he the nobi- 
lity; but on the contrary side, Sir Thomas More 
never had any private or public quarrel with 
any man ; yea, no man can reckon any to have 
been his enemy, being born wholly to friendship 
and affability ; wherefore being nothing inferior 
to Cato for gravity, integrity, and innocency, as 
exact a hater of all vice, and stern to all wicked 
men as he, yet did he far excel him in mildness, 
sweetness of behaviour, and pleasantness of wit; 
yea, I do him injury to compare him to any 
moral philosopher whatsoever ; for he was abso- 
lutely well seen in the school of Christ, and 
endued with all supernatural perfections, a great 
saint of Christ's church, and a holy martyr of 
his faith, and high in God's favour ; which was 
well testified in his daughter, my aunt Dauncy, 


who being sore sick of that disease, of which 
she after died, fell into a long trance, and after- 
wards returning to herself, she professed, with 
abundance of tears, that she had felt in that 
while most grievous torments, and should have 
suffered them for ever, had not her father's 
prayers and intercession begged of God a little 
longer space to repent her of her former life. 
It was also credibly reported, that two of John 
Heywood's sons, Jasper and Ellis, having one of 
the teeth of Sir Thomas More between them, 
and either of them being desirous to have it to 
himself, it suddenly, to the admiration of both, 
parted in two. 

Now, to conclude, let us consider why God 
culled this man out above all other to preserve 
the unity of his church, and to be an illustrious 
witness of the glorious cause for the which he 
died ; for, lest men should think that if only 
the clergy had died, they might seem partial in 
their own cause ; behold God picked out this 
worthy layman, such as, I suppose, all Chris- 
tendom had not the like, who should be as his 
especial ambassador for the laity, as was the 
famous Bishop of Rochester for the clergy ; such 
were these two for learning, as they could reach 
into all matters ; such for excellency of wit, 
that no subtle dealing could entrap them una- 
wares, easily foreseeing any danger; such for 


virtue and integrity of life, that God of his 
great mercy would not suffer such men, in 
so great a point as this, to be deceived. And 
let no man think this was no martyrdom; 
yea, rather it was greater than that of those 
who would not deny the faith of Christ, ac- 
cording as that worthy bishop and confessor 
Denis of Alexandria saith, that that martyrdom 
which one suffereth, to preserve the unity of the 
church, is more than that which one suffereth, 
because he will not do sacrifice to idols ; for in 
this a man dieth to save his own soul, in the 
other he dieth for the whole church. 




MONG his Latin works are his 
epigrams, partly translated out of 
Greek, and partly of his own 
making, so wittily devised and 
penned, as they may seem nothing inferior, or 
to yield to any of the like kind written in our 
days, and perchance not unworthy to be com- 
pared with those of like writers of old. These 
epigrams, as they are learned and pleasant, so 
are they nothing biting or contumelious. 

He also wrote elegantly and eloquently the 
life of King Richard the Third, not only in 
English, which book is abroad in print, (though 
corrupted and vitiated) but in Latin also, not yet 
printed.* He did not perfect nor finish that 

* It is observed by the former editor, after Hearne, that 
this is a mistake; the Latin Life of King Richard III. having 
been printed at Louvaine in 1566. 


book, neither any sithence durst take upon him 
to set pen to paper to finish it, neither in the one 
or other tongue, all men being deterred and 
driven from that enterprise, by reason of the 
incomparable excellency of that work; as all 
other painters were afraid to perfect and finish 
the image of Venus, painted but imperfectly by 
Apelles, for his excellent workmanship therein. 

But the book that carrieth the prize of all 
his Latin books, of witty invention, is his Utopia; 
he doth in it most lively and pleasantly paint 
forth such an exquisite platform, pattern, and 
example of a singular good common-wealth, as 
to the same, neither the Lacedaemonians, nor the 
Athenians, nor yet the best of all other, that of 
the Romans, is comparable, full prettily and 
probably devising the said country to be one of 
the countries of the new-found lands, declared 
to him in Antwerp, by Hythlodius, a Portingall, 
and one of the sea-companions of Americus 
Vesputius, that first sought out and found those 
lands ; such an excellent and absolute estate of 
a common-wealth, that saving the people were 
unchristened, might seem to pass any estate and 
common-wealth, I will not say of the old nations 
by me before mentioned, but even of any other 
in our time. Many great learned men, as 
Budeus, and Joannes Paludanus, upon a fervent 
zeal wished, that some excellent divines might 


be sent thither to preach Christ's Gospel ; yea 
there were here amongst us at home, sundry 
good men and learned divines very desirous to 
undertake the voyage to bring the people to the 
faith of Christ, whose manners they did so well 
like. And this said jolly invention of Sir Thomas 
More's seemed to bear a good countenance of 
truth, not only for the credit Sir Thomas was of 
in the world, but also for that about the same 
time many strange and unknown nations and 
countries were discovered, such as our forefathers 
never knew ; especially by the wonderful navi- 
gation of the ship called Victoria, that sailed the 
world round about, whereby it was found that 
ships sail bottom to bottom, and that there be 
antipodes, which thing Lactantius and others 
do flatly deny, laughing them to scorn that so 
did write. Again it is found, that under the 
zodiac, where Aristotle and others say, that for 
the immoderate and excessive heat there is no 
habitation, is the most temperate and pleasant 
dwelling, and the most fruitful country in the 
world. These and other considerations caused 
many wise and learned men nothing less to mis- 
trust, than that this had been nothing but an 
inventive drift of Sir Thomas More's own imagi- 
nation ; for they took it for a very true story, 
wherein they were deceived by Sir Thomas, as 
wise and as well learned as they were. In 


this book, amongst other things, he hath a very 
godly process, how there might be fewer thieves 
in England, and a marvellous opinionable pro- 
blem of sheep, that whereas men were wont 
to eat the sheep, as they do in other countries, 
now contrarywise sheep in England pitifully do 
devour men, women and children, houses, yea, 
and towns withal. Like a most thankful man, 
he maketh honourable mention of Cardinal 
Morton, archbishop of Canterbury and lord 
chancellor of England, in whose house, as we 
have said, himself was in his tender youth 
brought up, albeit it be by the dissembled name 
of the said Hythlodius, whom he imagineth to 
have been in England, and to have been ac- 
quainted with the said cardinal. 

And as this book in this kind is singular and 
excellent, containing and describing a common- 
wealth far passing the common-wealths devised 
and used by Lycurgus, Solon, Numa, Plato, and 
divers others : so wrote he in another kind and 
sort a book against Luther, no less singular and 
excellent. King Henry the Eighth had written 
a notable and learned book against Luther's 
book De Captivitate Babylonica, most evidently 
and mightily refuting his vile and shameful 
heresies against the catholic faith, and Christ's 
holy sacraments, which did so grieve Luther to 
the heart, that having no good substantial mat- 


ter to help himself withal, he fell to scoffing and 
saucy jesting at the king's book in his answer for 
the same, using nothing throughout the said 
answer, but the fourth figure of rhetorick called 
sauce-malapert, and played the very varlet with 
the king. To whom Sir Thomas More made 
reply, and doth so decipher and lay open his 
wretched vile handling of the sacred Scriptures, 
his monstrous opinions, and manifold contradic- 
tions, that neither he nor any of his generation 
durst ever after put pen to paper to encounter 
and rejoin to his reply : in which, besides the 
deep and profound debating of the matter itself, 
he so dresseth Luther with his own scoffing and 
jesting rhetoric, as he worthily deserved. But 
because this kind of writing (albeit a meet cover 
for such a cup, and very necessary to repress 
and beat him with his own folly, according to 
the Scripture, ' Responde stulto secundum stul- 
titiam ejus,') seemed not agreeable and corres- 
pondent to his gravity and dignity : the book was 
set forth under the name of one Gulielmus 

He wrote also and printed another proper 
and witty treatise against a certain epistle of 
John Pomerane, one of Luther's standard- 
bearers, in Germany. And after he was shut 
up in the Tower, he wrote a certain exposition 
in Latin, upon the passion of Christ, not yet 


printed, which was not perfected, and is so 
plainly and exquisitely translated into English, 
by his niece Mrs. Bassett,* that it may seem 
originally to have been penned in English by 
Sir Thomas More himself. Some other things 
he wrote also in Latin, which we pretermit ; and 
now we will say somewhat of his English 
works, which all (besides the Life of John Picus, 
earl of Mirandula, and the foresaid Life of King 
Richard the Third, and some other profane 
things,) concern matters of religion for the 
most part. 

The first book of this sort, was his Dialogues, 
made by him when he was chancellor of the 
duchy of Lancaster, which books occasioned 
him afterwards (as according to the old proverb, 
' One business begetteth another,') to write 
divers other things. For whereas he had 
amongst many other matters touched and re- 
proved William Tindall's adulterate and vicious 
translation of the New Testament, Tindall being 
not able to bear to see his new religion, and his 
own doings withal to have so foul an overthrow, 
as Sir Thomas More gave him, after great deli- 

* ' Niece* is here used for ' grand-daughter.' Mrs. Bas- 
sett was Mary, daughter of Margaret Roper, married first to 
Stephen Clarke, and secondly to James Bassett. She was 
one of the maids of honour to Queen Mary, and was celebrated 
for her learning and virtues. See Ballard, p. 1 06. 


beration and consultation with his evangelical 
brethren, took in hand to answer some part of his 
dialogues, especially touching his aforesaid cor- 
rupt translation ; but what small glory he won 
thereby, is easy to be seen of every man, that with 
indifferent affection will vouchsafe to read Sir 
Thomas More's reply, whereof we shall give 
you a small taste ; but first we will note unto 
you the integrity, sincerity, and uprightness of 
the good and gracious nature and disposition of 
the said Sir Thomas More in his writing, not 
only against Tindall, but generally against all 
other protestants. First then it is to be consi- 
dered in him, that he doth not, (as many other 
writers do against their adversaries, and all 
protestants do against him and other catholics,) 
wreathe and wrest their words to the worst, 
and make their reasons more feeble and weak, 
than they are ; but rather enforceth them to 
the uttermost, and oftentimes further than the 
party himself doth or perhaps could do. And 
he was of this mind, that he said, he would not 
let, while he lived, wheresoever he perceived 
his adversary to say well, or himself to have 
said otherwise, indifferently for both to say and 
declare the truth. And therefore himself after 
the printing, finding the books divulged and 
commonly read of the Debellation of Salem and 
Bizance, albeit many had read the place and 


found no fault therein ; yet he finding afterwards 
that he mistook certain words of the Pacifier, 
without any man's controlment, merely of him- 
self reformed them. The like he counselled his 
learned friends, especially Erasmus to do, and to 
retract many things that he had written ; whose 
counsel (wherein he had a notable precedent in 
the worthy doctor St Augustine) if Erasmus 
had followed, I trow his books would have been 
better liked of by our posterity, which perchance 
shall be fain either utterly to abolish some of 
his works, or at least to redress and reform 
them. Here is now further to be considered in 
his writings, that he never hunted after praise 
and vain glory, nor any vile and filthy gain and 
commodity; yea, so that envenomed and poi- 
soned books might be once suppressed and 
abolished, he wished his own on a light and fair 
fire. Yet did the evangelical brethren, after he 
had abandoned the office of lord chancellor,- as 
they otherwise spread and writ many vain and 
false rumours to the advancement of their new 
gospel, and oppressing of the Catholics, lay to 
his charge in their books, that he was partial to 
the clergy, and for his books received a great 
mass of money of the said clergy. And Tindall 
and divers others of the good brethren affirmed, 
that they wist well that Sir Thomas More was 
not less worth in money, plate and other move- 



ables, than twenty thousand marks ; but it was 
found far otherwise, when his house was 
searched, after he was committed to the Tower, 
where a while he had some competent liberty, 
but after on a sudden he was shut up very close, 
at which time he feared there would be a new 
and more narrower search in all his houses, be- 
cause his mind gave him, that folks thought he 
was not so poor as it appeared upon the search ; 
but he told his daughter Mrs. Roper that it 
would be but a sport to them that knew the 
truth of his poverty, unless they should find out 
his wife's gay girdle, and her gold beads. The 
like poverty of any man, that had continued so 
in high favour with the king, and had borne 
many great offices, hath, I trow, seldom been 
found in any layman before, and much less since 
his time. As for his partiality to the clergy, 
saving the reverence due to the sacred order of 
priests, by whom we are made Christian men in 
baptism, and by whom we receive the other 
holy sacraments, there was none in him ; and 
that they felt, that were naught of the clergy ; 
they had so little favour at his hands, that there 
was no man, that any meddling had with them, 
into whose hands they were more loath to come, 
than into his ; but for fees, annuities or other 
rewards, or any commodity that should incline 
him to be ever propense and partial to the 


clergy, none can be showed. First, touching 
any fees he had to his living, after that he had 
left the chancellorship, he had not one groat 
granted him since he first wrote, or began to 
write the Dialogues, and that was the first book 
that ever he wrote in matters of religion. And 
as for all the lands and fees he had, besides 
those of the king's gift, was not, nor should be, 
during his mother-in-law's life, (who lived after 
he relinquished the office of chancellorship), 
worth yearly the sum of one hundred pounds, 
and thereof he had some by his wife, some left 
by his father, some he purchased, and some 
fees had he of temporal men ; and so may 
every man soundly guess that he had no great 
part of his living of the clergy to make him 
partial to them. Now, touching rewards or 
lucre, which rose to him by his writing, (for 
which good Father Tindall said he wrote his 
books, and not for any affection he bare to the 
clergy, no more than Judas betrayed Christ for 
any favour he bare to the scribes and phari- 
sees,) it is a most shameful lie and slander, 
as may appear by his refusal of the four or five 
thousand pounds offered him by the clergy. 

Concerning Tindall's false translation of the 
New Testament ; first it is to be considered, as 
these good brethren partly deny the very text 
itself, and whole books of the sacred Scripture, 


as the book of the Maccabees, and certain others; 
and Luther Saint James's Epistle also ; and as 
they adulterate and commaculate and corrupt 
the whole corps of the same with their wrong 
and false expositions, far disagreeing from the 
comment of the ancient fathers and doctors, 
and from the faith of the whole catholic church ; 
so have they for the advancing and furthering 
of the said heresies, of a set purpose perverted 
and mistranslated the said Holy Scriptures. And 
after such shameful sort, that amongst other 
their mischievous practices, whereas in the Latin 
Epistle of Saint Paul is read in the old transla- 
tion " fornicarii," in the new they have " sacer- 
dotes," that is, priests, for adulterers, for the 
good devotion they bear to the sacred order of 
priesthood. And their patriarch Luther, with 
his translation of the said Holy Scripture into 
the Dutch tongue, hath wonderfully depraved, 
corrupted, and defiled it, as we could by divers 
proofs easily show, whom his good scholar Tin- 
dall, in his English translation, doth match, or 
rather pass ; wherein he turneth the word 
" church" into " congregation ;" " priest" into 
" senior," or " elder ;" which word " congrega- 
tion," absolutely of itself, as Tindall doth use 
it, doth no more signify the congregation of 
Christian men, than a fair flock of unchristian 
geese ; neither this word " presbyter," for " elder/' 


signifieth any whit more a priest, than it doth an 
elder stick. Many other parts of his translation 
are suitable to this ; as where, in spite of Christ's 
and his holy saints' images, he turneth " idols" into 
" images;" and for the like purpose of setting forth 
his heresy " charity" into " love," " grace" into 
" favour," " confession" into " repentance," and 
such like ; for which, as also for divers of his 
false, faithless, heretical assertions, as well 
that the apostles left nothing unwritten that is 
of necessity to be believed; that the church 
may err in matter of faith ; that the church is 
only of chosen elects ; touching the manner 
and order of our election ; touching his wicked 
and detestable opinion against the free will of 
man ; touching his fond and foolish paradoxes 
of the elect, though they do abominable heinous 
acts, yet they do not sin ; and that the elect 
that doth once heartily repent, can sin no more ; 
he doth so substantially and pleasantly confute 
and overthrow Tindall, that if these men that 
be envenomed and poisoned with those pestilent 
heresies, would, with indifferent rninds, read the 
said Sir Thomas More's answer, there were 
good hope (as it hath, God be thanked, chanced 
to many already) of their good and speedy 
recovery. But, alack the while, and woe 
upon the subtle craft of the cursed devil, that 
blindeth them, and the reckless, negligent 


regard that these men have to their soul's 
health,, that can be content to suck in the 
deadly poison of their souls, by reading and 
crediting these mischievous books, and yet will 
not once vouchsafe to take the wholesome 
depulsive triacle, not to be fetched from Geneva, 
but even ready at home at their hands in Sir 
Thomas More's books against this dreadful 
deadly infection. But to return now again to 
the said Tindall : Lord, what open, foul, and 
shameful shifts doth he make for the defence of 
his wrong and pestiferous assertions, and with 
what spiteful shameful lies doth he belie Sir 
Thomas More, and wretchedly depraveth his 
writings ! Not being ashamed, though his plain 
and manifest words lie open to the sight of all 
men to the contrary, to deprave his answers. And 
amongst other, that he should affirm, that the 
church of Christ should be before the Gospel 
was taught or preached ; which things he neither 
writeth nor once thought as a most absurd 
untruth, but that it was, as it is very true, before 
the written Gospel. And the said Sir Thomas 
More seeing that, by Tindall's own confession, 
the church of God was in the world many 
hundred years before the written laws of Moses, 
doth well thereof gather and conclude against 
Tindall, that there is no cause to be yielded, 
but that much more it may be so, and is so 


indeed, that in the gracious time of our redemp- 
tion, the Holy Ghost that leadeth the church from 
time to time into all truth, being so plentifully 
effused upon the same, the church of Christ 
is, and ever hath been, in many things instructed 
necessary to be believed, that be not in any 
Scripture comprized. These and many other 
strong reasons do prove the common known 
catholic church, and none other, to be the true 
church of Christ. And seeing we do not know 
the very books of Scripture, which thing 
Luther himself confesseth, but by the known 
catholic church, we must of necessity take 
the true and sound understanding of the said 
Scriptures, and all our faith from the said 
church ; which understanding is confirmed 
in the said church from the apostles' time by 
infinite miracles, and with the consent of the 
old fathers and holy martyrs, with many other 
substantial reasons that Sir Thomas More so 
layeth forth, that he have so appalled and amazed 
Tindall, that he is like a man that were in an 
inexplicable labyrinth, whereof he can by no 
means get out ; and Tindall being thus brought 
oftentimes to a bay and utter distress, he scuddeth 
in and out like a hare that had twenty brace of 
greyhounds after her, and were afeared at every 
foot to be snatched up. And as Sir Thomas 
More merrily yet truly writeth, he did wind 


himself so wilily this way and that way, and so 
shifteth him in and out, and with his subtle 
shifting so bleareth our eyes, that he maketh us 
as blind as a cat ; and so snareth us up in his 
matters, that we can no more see whereabout 
he walketh, than if he went visible before us all 
naked in a net, and in effect playeth the very 
blind hob about the house ; sometimes when 
there is no other shift, then Tindall is driven 
to excuse himself and his doings, as he doth for 
the word " presbyter," which he translated first 
" senior," then " elder ;" wherein for excuse of 
his fault, at great length he declareth four fair 
virtues in himself, malice, ignorance, error, and 
folly. And where that he said he had amended 
his fault in translating " elder" for " senior," this 
is a like amending, as if he would, where a man 
were blind on the one eye, amend his sight by 
putting out the other. 

As Sir Thomas More answered Tindall, 
touching his unknown church, so did he also 
Friar Barnes ; for in that point both agreed, 
and would have the church secret and hid in 
hugger mugger; but in the mean season they 
handle the matter so handsomely and so artifi- 
cially, that their own reasons pluck down their 
unknown church. And albeit they would have 
us believe the church were unknown, yet do 
they give us tokens and marks whereby it 


should be known. And in perusing their unknown 
church they fall into many foolish and absurd 
paradoxes, that Sir Thomas More discovereth. 
And this unknown church would they fain rear 
up in the air to pluck down the catholic known 
church on the earth, and so leave us no church 
at all ; which church to overthrow is their final 
and only hope ; for, that standing, they well 
know their malignant church cannot stand, being 
by the catholic church both now and many 
hundred years condemned. These and many 
other things doth Sir Thomas More more at 
large full well declare, and setteth the limping 
and halting good wife of the Bottle, at Bottle's 
Wharf, at disputation with F. Barnes ; in which 
the indifferent reader shall see, that she did not 
so much limp and halt, as did the lame and 
weak reasons that F. Barnes brought against 
her of his unknown church, which she utterly 
overthroweth ; but yet as they do, both Tindall 
and Barnes, agree, as we have said, in their 
secret unknown church, so in other points 
touching their said church, as in many other 
articles besides, they do jar and disagree, and 
not so much the one from the other as from 
themselves, as Sir Thomas More showeth more 
at large. " For," saith he, " as they that would 
have built up the Tower of Babylon had such a 
stop thrown upon them, that suddenly none 


knew what another said ; surely so God upon 
these heretics of our time, that go busily about 
to raise up to the sky their foul filthy dunghill 
of all old and new false stinking heresies, 
gathered together against the true faith of 
Christ, that he himself hath hitherto taught 
his true Catholic church; God, I say, when the 
apostles went about to preach the Catholic 
faith, sent down the holy spirit of unity, con- 
cord, and truth unto them, with the gift of 
speech and understanding, so that they under- 
stood every man, and every man understood 
them, hath sent amongst these heretics the spirit 
of error and lying, of dissension and division, the 
damnable devil of hell, which so entangleth their 
tongues and distempereth their brains, that they 
neither understand one another, nor any of them 
well himself." The books of the said Tindall 
and Barnes are more farced and stuffed with 
jesting and railing than with any good substan- 
tial reasoning ; and notwithstanding that a man 
would think that Tindall were in fond scoffing 
peerless ; yet, as Sir Thomas declareth, Barnes 
doth far overrun him, and oftentimes fareth as 
if he were from a friar waxen a fiddler, and 
would, at a tavern, go get him a penny for a fit 
of mirth ; and yet sometimes will the fool de- 
murely and holily preach, and take so upon him, 
as if he were Christ's own dear apostle, as do 


also the residue of the brethren that write, and 
especially Tindall, who beginneth the preface 
of his book with " The grace of our Lord, 
and the light of his Spirit," &c. with such glo- 
rious glittering salutations, as if it were Saint 
Paul himself. But Sir Thomas More doth ac- 
cordingly dress him, and doth discover to the 
world Friar Luther's and TindalFs, and such 
other false, feigned, and hypocritical holiness, 
in their so high and solemn salutations and 
preachings; and concludeth not more pleasingly, 
that when a man well considereth these their 
salutations and preachings, he may well and 
truly judge those their counterfeit salutations 
and sermons to be a great deal worse than Friar 
Frappie (who first curseth, then blesseth and 
looketh holily, and preacheth ribaldry,) was wont 
at Christmas to make. 

And thus will we leave Tindall and Barnes, 
and speak of some other of their fraternity ; 
amongst whom there was one that made The 
Supplication of Beggars, the which Sir Thomas 
More answered very notably before he wrote 
against Tindall and Barnes. This Supplication 
was made by one Simon Fish, for which he 
became penitent, returned to the church again, 
and abjured all the whole hill of those heresies, 
out of the which the fountain of his great zeal, 
that moved him to write, sprang. 


After this Sir Thomas More wrote a letter 
impugning the erroneous writings of John Frith; 
and whereas, after he had given over the office 
of lord chancellor, the heretics full fast did write 
against him, and found many faults with him and 
his writings, he made a goodly and learned 
Apology of some of his answers ; which said Apo_ 
logy we have already touched, especially that which 
they laid to his charge of the slender recital and 
misrehearsal of Tindall and Barnes's arguments, 
and showeth that they were calumnious slan- 
derers ; and that himself used Tindall and Barnes 
after a better manner, than they used him. 
For Tindall rehearseth Sir Thomas More's 
arguments in every place faintly and falsely, 
and leaveth out the pith and strength, and the 
proof that most maketh for the purpose. And 
he fareth therein, as if there were one having a 
day of challenge appointed in which he should 
wrestle with his adversary, and would find the 
mean by craft before the day to get his adversary 
into his own hands, and there keep him, and diet 
him with such a thin diet, that at the day he 
bringeth him forth feeble, faint and famished, 
and almost starved, and so lean that he can 
scarce stand on his legs ; and then is it easy, 
you wot well, to give him the fall. And yet 
when Tindall had done all this, he took the fall 
himself; but every one may see, that Sir Thomas 


More useth not that play with Tindall nor with 
any of those folk, but rehearseth their reasons to 
the best, that they can make it themselves, and 
rather enforceth, and strengtheneth it, as we 
have before declared, rather than taketh any 
thing therefrom. 

Whereas also they found farther fault with 
the length of his book, he writeth amongst other 
things that it is less marvel, that it seem to them 
long and tedious to read within, whom it irketh 
to do so much as to look it over without, for 
every way seemeth long to him that is weary 
before he begin. But I find some men, to whom 
the reading of the book is so far from being 
tedious, that they have read the whole book over 
thrice, and some that make tables thereof for 
their own remembrance, and are men that have 
as much wit and learning both, as the best of all 
this blessed brotherhood, that ever I heard of. 
And for the shortness of Barnes's book, that the 
adversaries did commend, he writeth that he 
wotteth not well, whether he may call them long 
or short ; sometimes they be short indeed, be- 
cause they would be dark, and have their false 
follies pass and repass all unperceived; some- 
times they use some compendious eloquence, 
that they convey and couch up together with a 
wonderful brevity four follies and five lies, in less 
than as many lines ; but yet for all this I see not 


in effect any men more long than they : for they 
preach sometimes a very long process to a little 
purpose,, and sith that of their whole purpose 
they prove never a whit at all, were their writings 
never so short, yet were their work too long at 
last by altogether. 

Besides many other things, his adversaries 
laid to his charge, that he handled Tindall, Frith, 
and Barnes, ungodly and with uncomely words, 
to which he thus answereth ; " now when that 
against all the catholic church, both that now is 
and ever hath been before from the apostles' days 
hitherto, both temporal and spiritual, laymen 
and religious, and against all that good is, saints, 
ceremonies, service of God, the very sacrament of 
the altar, these blasphemous heretics in their un- 
gracious books so villainously wrest and rail: were 
not a man, ween you, far overseen and worthy to 
be accounted uncourteous, that would in writing 
against their heresies presume without great 
reverence to rehearse their worshipful names ? if 
any of them use their words at their pleasure as 
evil and as villainous as they list, against myself; 
I am content to forbear any requiting thereof, 
and give them no worse words again, than if they 
spake me fair, nor using themselves towards all 
other folk, as they do, fairer words will I not 
give them, than if they spake me foul; for 
all is one to me, or rather worse than better ; 


for the pleasant oil of heretics cast upon my 
head, can do my mind no pleasure, but con- 
trariwise, the worse that folk write of me for 
hatred they hear to the catholic church and 
faith, the greater pleasure, as for mine own 
part, they do me ; but surely their railing 
against all other, I purpose not to bear so 
patiently, as to forbear to let them hear some 
part of like language, as they speak, howbeit 
to match them therein, I cannot, though I 
would ; but I am content, as needs I must, to 
give them therein the mastery, for to match 
them, were more rebuke than honesty ; for in 
their railing is all their roast meat sauced, all 
their pot sethed, and all their pie meat spiced, 
and all their wafers, and all their pottage made." 
He addeth further, " if they, saith he, will not be 
heretics alone themselves, and hold their tongues 
and be still, but must needs be talking, and cor- 
rupt whom they can, let them yet at the least- 
wise be reasonable heretics and honest, and write 
reason, and leave railing, and then - let all the 
brethren find fault with me, if I use them not 
after that in words as fair and as mild as the 
matter may suffer." 

About this time, there was one that had 
made a book of the Spirituality and the Tempo- 
rality, of which book the brethren made great 
store, and blamed Sir Thomas More, that he 


had not in writing used such a soft and mild 
manner, and such an indifferent fashion, as the 
same person did. By which occasion, Sir Thomas 
More discourseth upon the same book, the 
author whereof pretendeth to make a pacifica- 
tion of the aforesaid division and discord, and 
openeth many faults and follies, and false slan- 
ders against the clergy, under a holy conclusion 
and pretence of pacification in the said books. 
To which discourse of Sir Thomas More's there 
came an answer afterwards in print, under the 
title of Salem and Bizance ; to the which Sir 
Thomas More replied, and so dressed this 
pretty proper politic pacifier, that he had no list, 
nor any man for him afterwards, to encounter 
with Sir Thomas. The pretty, pleasant, and 
witty declaration of the said book of Sir 
Thomas More's, because the book is seldom 
and rare to be got, I will now, gentle reader, set 
before thine eyes. The said title is framed in this 
sort : " The debellation of Salem and Bizance, 
sometimes two great towns, which being under 
the Turk, were between Easter and Michaelmas 
last 1533, by a marvellous metamorphose and 
enchantment, turned into Englishmen, by the 
wonderful inventive wit and witchcraft of Sir 
John Somesay the pacifier, and so conveyed by 
him hither in a dialogue to defend his division, 
against Sir Thomas More knight ; but now being 


thus between Michaelmas and Allhallowntide 
next ensuing, the debellation vanquished, they 
be fled hence, and be become two towns again, 
with those old names changed, Salem into Jeru- 
salem, and Bizance into Constantinople, the one 
in Greece, the other in Syria, where they may 
see them that will, and win them that can : and 
if this pacifier convey them hither again, and 
ten such towns embattled with them in dialogues, 
Sir Thomas More hath undertaken to put him- 
self in adventure against them all ; but if he let 
them tarry still there, he will not utterly for- 
swear it, but he is not in the mind, age now 
coming on, and he waxing unwieldy, to go 
thither to give the assault to such well-walled 
towns, without some such lusty company, as 
shall be likely to leap up a little more lightly." 
This is the title of the aforesaid book ; and that 
indeed Sir Thomas More hath most valiantly 
discomfited the pacifier, and overthrown his two 
great towns, may easily appear to such as will 
vouchsafe to read Sir Thomas More's answer : 
the circumstances and particulars whereof to 
set down, would make our present treatise to 
grow too big ; I will only show you one decla- 
ration or two, whereby you may make some 
aim to judge of the whole doing of the said 
pacifier. " If it were so, saith Sir Thomas More, 
that one found two men standing together, and 



would step in between them, and bear them in 
hand,, that they were about to fight, and would 
with a word put one party back with his hand, 
and all to buffet the other about the face, and 
then go forth and say, he had parted a fray, and 
pacified the parties, some men would say, as I 
suppose, he had as lief his enemy were let alone 
with him, and thereof abide the adventure, as 
have such a friend step in to part them." An- 
other, of a man that were angry with his wife, 
and haply not without cause ; now saith Sir 
Thomas More, if the author of this book would 
take upon him to reconcile them, and help to 
make them at one, and therein would use this 
way, that when he had them both together 
before him, would tell all the faults of the wife, 
and set among them some of his own imagina- 
tion, and then would go about to avoid his words 
under the fair figure of ' Some-say ;' (which he 
commonly useth in his book of Pacifying, either 
by forge tfulness, or by the figure of plain folly ;) 
and then would tell her husband's part perverse 
too, and say unto him, that he himself had not 
dealt discreetly with her, but hath used to make 
her too homely with him, and hath suffered her 
to be idle, and hath given way to her being too 
much conversant amongst her gossips, and hath 
given her over gay gear, and sometimes given 
her evil words, and called her, as I suppose, 


cursed quean and shrew, and some say, that 
behind your back she calls you knave and 
cuckold ; were not there a proper kind of paci- 
fication ? And yet is this the lively pattern and 
image of Mr. Pacifier's doings, with the which, 
and with the spinning of fine lies with flax, 
fetching them out of his own body, as the spider 
doth the cobweb, feigning and finding fault with 
Sir Thomas More for these matters and words, 
whereof he saith the plain contrary, he had 
great cause to be ashamed, howbeit little shame 
could cleave to his cheeks, but that he would 
soon shake it away, while his name was not at 
his book. 

We have now one book more written in 
matter of religion, and that is of the blessed 
sacrament of the altar, by the said Sir Thomas 
More. We told you before of a letter of his, 
wherein he impugneth the heresy of John Frith. 
Now had the said Frith, albeit he was prisoner in 
the Tower of London, found the means to make 
answer to that letter, and to convey it beyond the 
seas, where it was printed, and it was afterwards 
brought into this realm, as Sir Thomas More did 
certainly understand, who minded, when the book 
came to his hands, to answer it ; but in the mean 
season came there from beyond the seas, an 
Answer made to the same letter by another, and 
printed without the author's name, entitled, The 


Supper of the Lord. But I beshrew, quoth Sir 
Thomas More, such a sewer, that serveth in 
such a supper, and conveyeth away the best 
dish, and bringeth it not to the board, as this 
man would, if he could convey from the blessed 
sacrament Christ's own flesh and blood, and leave 
us nothing therein but for a memorial only, bare 
bread and wine. But his hands are too lumpish, and 
this mess too great for him, especially to convey 
clean, sith every man hath his heart bent thereto^ 
and therefore his eye set thereon, to see where it 
becometh. This naughty nameless author, Sir 
Thomas More doth not only by the authority of 
the sacred scripture, and holy ancient fathers, 
but by his own reasons and texts that himself 
bringeth forth, plainly and evidently convince. 

Now have we besides, other excellent and 
fruitful books which he made, being prisoner in 
the Tower ; as his three books of Comfort against 
Tribulation, a Treatise to receive the blessed 
Sacrament sacramentally and virtually both ; a 
Treatise upon the Passion, with notable intro- 
ductions to the same. He wrote also many 
other godly and devout instructions and 
prayers; and surely of all the books that ever 
he made, I doubt whether I may prefer any of 
them before the said three Books of Comfort, 
yea or any other man's, either heathen or 
Christian that have written, (as many have) 


either in Greek or Latin of the said matter. And 
as for heathen, I do this worthy man plain in- 
jury, and do much abase him, in matching and 
comparing him with them, especially in this point : 
seeing that, were they otherwise never so incom- 
parable, they lacked yet, and knew not the very 
especial and principal ground of comfort and 
consolation, that is, the true faith of Christ 
in whom and for whom, and whose glory we 
must seek and fetch all our true comfort and 
consolation : well, let that pass ; and let us 
further say, that as the said Sir Thomas More 
notably passeth many learned Christians, that 
have of the same matter written before, so let 
us add, that it may well be doubted, all matters 
considered and weighed, if any of the rest may 
seem much to pass him. There is in these 
books so witty, pithy, and substantial mat- 
ter, for the easing, remedying, and patiently 
suffering of all manner of griefs and sorrows 
that may possibly encumber any man, by any 
manner or kind of tribulation, whether their 
tribulation proceed from any inward temptation 
or ghostly enemy, the devil, or any outward 
temptation of the world, threatening to bereave 
or spoil us of our goods, lands, honour, liberty, 
and freedom, by grievous and sharp punish- 
ment, and finally of our life withal, by any 
painful, exquisite, and cruel death ; against all 


which he doth so wonderfully and effectually 
prepare, defend, and arm the reader, that a man 
cannot desire or wish any thing of any more 
efficacy or importance thereunto to be added. 
In the which hook his principal drift and scope 
was to stir and prepare the minds of English- 
men manfully and courageously to withstand, 
and not to shrink at the imminent and open 
persecution, which he foresaw, and immediately 
followed against the unity of the church, and 
the catholic faith of the same ; albeit full wittily 
and warily, that the books might the safer go 
abroad, he doth not expressly meddle with 
these matters, but covereth the matter under 
the name of an Hungarian, and of the persecu- 
tion of the Turks in Hungary ; and of the book 
translated out of the Hungarian tongue into 
Latin, and then into the English tongue. Of 
these books then there is great account to be 
made, not only for the excellent matter com- 
prised in them, but also for that they were 
made when he was most straitly shut up 
and enclosed from all company in the Tower, 
in which sort I doubt whether a man shall 
find any other book of the like worthiness 
made by any Christian ; and yet if any such be 
found, much surely should I yield to the same. 
But there is one thing wherein these books of 
Sir Thomas More, by special prerogative sur- 


mount (or else I am deceived) all other of this 
sort ; and that is, that they were for the most part 
written with no other pen, than a coal, as was his 
Treatise upon the Passion ; which copies, if some 
men had them, they might and would esteem more 
than other hooks written with golden letters, and 
would no less account of it than Saint Hierome 
did of certain books of the martyr Lucian, written 
with his own hand, that by chance he happened 
on, and esteemed them as a precious jewel. 
And yet is there one thing more in the valuing 
and praising of these books : he is not, as many 
great clerks are, like to a whetstone, that being 
blunt and dull itself, whetteth other things, and 
sharpeneth them : it was not so with this man ; 
for, though he wrote these books with a dead 
black coal, yet was there a most hot burning 
coal, such a one as purified the lips of the 
holy prophet Esaias, that directed his heart 
and so enflamed and incensed the same to 
heavenward, that the good and wholesome in- 
structions and counsel that he gave to other 
men in his books, he himself afterward, in 
most patient suffering the loss of his goods 
and lands, by his imprisonment, and death, 
for the defence of justice and of the catholic 
faith, experimented and worthily practised in 

And these be in effect the books he made 


either in Latin or English ; which his English 
books, if they had been written by him in the 
Latin tongue also, or might be with the like 
grace that they now have, translated into Latin, 
they would surely much augment and increase 
the estimation which the world hath conceived, 
especially in foreign countries, of his incom- 
parable wit, learning, and virtue. 



No. I. 





Most gracious and Sovereign Lady, 
THE author of this treatise, eldest son by 
descent, and heir by nature of the family of 
that worthy martyr, whose life is described 
in it ; had he lived himself to have set it forth 
to the view of Christian eyes, would not have 
thought upon any other patron and protector 
to dedicate it unto than your most excellent 
Majesty. For he was most constantly affected 
always to the French nation and crown, next 
after the dutiful obedience whicn he ought to 
his own natural lord and sovereign. And this 


his affection did he manifest on all occasions, 
but especially in the treaty of the happy mar- 
riage of your highness with the king our sove- 
reign lord and master ; assembling, at his own 
costs and charges, with unwearied industry, 
all the English persons of note and esteem 
that then were in and about Rome, and, with 
them all, (as the mouth of them all,) suppli- 
cating to his holiness for the dispatch of this 
most hopeful and happy contract, yielding 
such reasons for the effecting thereof, as highly 
pleased the chief pastor of the church under 
Christ our Saviour. The same affection did 
he testify sufficiently in the last period of his 
life, leaving his body to be buried in the French 
church at Rome, where, with great content 
of the French nobility, it lieth interred. 

This being the affection of the author of 
this treatise, I should much wrong his memory, 
if these labours of his should be offered to the 
patronage of any other than of your royal 
Majesty. The glorious martyr himself demands 
likewise, that his life should be read under 
your Majesty's protection, since he lost his life 
in this world (to gain it in the next) in defence 
of an innocent stranger Queen (for reasons not 
to be mentioned by us), debarred from her 
lawful bed. Although (God be praised and 
magnified therefore) the heavens have rained 


such graces upon your Majesty, that there 
never can happen any such causes of defence ; 
your glorious husband and lord, our sovereign 
king, so dearly affecting you, and the hopeful 
issue (the chiefest bond of matrimonial love,) 
so powerfully knitting your hearts together, and 
your gracious Majesty's goodness, virtues, and 
debonnaire discretion, so recommending you to 
him first, and then to all his true loyal subjects 
of this great united monarchy, that we may 
undoubtedly expect from Almighty God a long 
and prosperous enjoyance of your joint govern- 
ment, and a glorious race of happy successors 
to this crown from your royal loins ; which 
happiness, and heaven after long prosperity on 
earth, upon my knees I wish unto your royal 
grace, remaining for ever, 

Your Majesty's loyal and obedient 

subject and servant, 

M. C. M. E. 


No. II. 



THE following sheets were drawn up by Thomas 
More, the great grandson of Sir Thomas More, 
whose history they contain, and are supposed 
to have been first published in London in quarto, 
about two years after the author's decease, who 
is reported to have died at Rome on the llth 
of April, 1625, according to the Gregorian compu- 
tation, and to have left this work behind him 
there. He is said to have been a person of 
consideration and character, the agent of the 
English clergy in Spain, and at the court of 
Rome, and a zealous asserter of the pope's 
supremacy. And indeed he managed with such 
application and integrity in the business of his 
employment, that upon his leaving the world, 
the English Roman Catholic clergy erected a 
monument over his ashes at their own expense, 
as a testimony of the respect they bore him, 
and the sense they had of his services. He 


lies buried in the church of Saint Lewis at 
Rome, and the inscription over him, as it is 
given us by Anthony Wood, runs in the form 
following : " D. O. M. S. Thomae Moro dioc. 
Ebor. Anglo, magni illius Thomae Mori Angliae 
Cancellarii et Martyris pronepoti atq; haeredi, 
viro probitate et pietate insigni, qui, raro ad- 
modum apud Britannos exemplo, in fratrem 
natu minorem amplum transcripsit patrimonium, 
et presbyter Romae factus, inde fuisse sedis 
Apostolicae in patriam profectus, plusculos annos 
strenuam fidei propagandae navavit operam ; 
postea cleri Anglicani negotia septem annos 
Romae, et quinque in Hispania, P. P. Paulo V. 
et Gregorio XV. summa cum integritate et 
industria, suisq; sumptibus, procuravit. Tan- 
dem de subrogando Anglis Episcopo ad Ur- 
banum VIII. missus, negotio feliciter confecto 
mercedem recepturus, ex hac vita migravit, 
xi. Apr. An. 1625, ast. suae 59. Clerus An- 
glicanus mcestus P." The near relation he 
bore to Sir Thomas More must necessarily have 
made him well acquainted with the principal 
circumstances of his life, and accordingly his 
performance is said by the learned Oxford anti- 
quary to have been incomparably well written. 
It was so greedily sought after upon its first 
publication, that in Mr. Wood's time, it was 
scarce to be had ; and it appears from the few 


sheets of Sir Thomas More's Life, which Dr. 
Fiddes has left behind him, that notwithstand- 
ing all his enquiries after proper materials for 
the compiling his history, he had never seen it. 
It is the scarcity of this work, and the value 
that has been set upon it, which have given 
occasion to this new edition, that the world 
might not be deprived of any information re- 
lating to the story of this great man, whose 
learning and sufferings have so justly recom- 
mended him to the esteem of mankind. 

His execution is, without exception, one of 
the greatest blemishes in King Henry the 
Eighth's reign. As he had been some time in 
favour with the king, and stood distinguished 
by his faithfulness and zeal in the administration 
of justice, by an unexampled generosity and 
disinterestedness, it might have reasonably been 
expected, that his present supposed offence 
would have been overlooked upon the score of 
his former services, and the rigour of his sen- 
tence abated. But his great endowments were 
turned to his disadvantage, and made use of as 
so many arguments for hastening his ruin. He 
was invidiously charged with ingratitude in the 
preamble to an act of parliament, " for the great 
favours he had received from the king, and for 
studying to sow and make sedition among the 
king's subjects, and refusing to take the oath of 


succession." And it was further urged, that if 
no notice was taken of him in so great a change, 
and lie was suffered to escape with impunity, 
his authority might make an ill impression upon 
the people, and his example encourage others 
to fall off from their affection to the king. 

Archbishop Cranmer is said to have soli- 
cited in his behalf; and there is still extant a 
letter from him to Secretary Cromwell, dated 
the 1 7th of April, wherein he presses, that Sir 
Thomas More and the Bishop of Rochester 
might be dispensed with in the present case, and 
allowed to take the oath to the succession only, 
without swearing to the preamble, as they had 
both of them freely offered to do. His wisdom 
foresaw, that if they once swore to the succes- 
sion, all others would readily acquiesce in their 
judgment, and peace be restored to the nation. 
But the king was too passionately fond of his 
new queen, and his new power, to admit of any 
advice, which might seem to reflect upon either. 
And thus it was resolved to proceed against 
them with all imaginable severity. 

In November following an act was passed 
in parliament for the .farther establishment of 
the king's supremacy. The tenor of it was 
very extraordinary, and as it is only referred to 
in the ensuing discourse, I shall here lay it before 
the reader. 

A A 


" Albeit the king's majesty justly and right- 
fully is, and ought to be supreme head of the 
church of England, and is so recognized by the 
clergy of this realm in their convocations, yet 
nevertheless for corroboration and confirmation 
thereof, and for increase of virtue in Christ's 
religion within this realm of England, and to 
repress and extirp all errors, heresies, and other 
enormities and abuses heretofore used in the 
same ; Be it enacted by the authority of this 
present parliament, that the king our sovereign 
lord, his heirs and successors, kings of this 
realm, shall be taken, accepted, and reputed, 
the only supreme head in earth of the church 
of England, called Anglicana Ecclesia, and 
shall have and enjoy annexed and united to the 
imperial crown of this realm, as well the title 
and style thereof, as all honours, dignities, 
immunities, profits, and commodities to the 
said dignity of supreme head of the said 
church belonging and appertaining. And that 
our said sovereign lord, his heirs and successors, 
kings of this realm, shall have full power and 
authority from time to time to visit, repress, 
redress, reform, order, correct, restrain, and 
amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, con- 
tempts, and enormities, whatsoever they be, 
which by any manner of spiritual authority or 
jurisdiction ought or may lawfully be reformed, 
repressed, ordered, redressed, corrected, re- 


strained, or amended, most to the pleasure of 
Almighty God, the increase of virtue in Christ's 
religion, and for the conservation of the peace, 
unity, and tranquillity of this realm, any usage, 
custom, foreign laws, foreign authority, prescrip- 
tion, or any thing or things to the contrary 
hereof notwithstanding." 

Thus, we see the king's majesty, and such as 
were commissioned by him, were made sole 
judges in matters of faith, and all ecclesiastical 
discipline was put into their hand. The com- 
mission, which our Saviour had granted to his 
apostles and their successors, was set aside by 
an human law, and the authority they derived 
from heaven transferred upon the state. The 
care of souls was made to devolve upon the civil 
power, and the being of Christianity to depend 
upon the will of the magistrate. 

The king began the exercise of his supre- 
macy with naming Cromwell his vicar-general, 
and general visitor of all the monasteries and 
other privileged places. He next made him his 
lord vicegerent in ecclesiastical matters, gave 
him an authority over the bishops, and prece- 
dence next the royal family. And in both these 
commissions, all jurisdiction as well ecclesiastical 
as civil, is said to flow from his majesty as su- 
preme head. 

Not long after the parliament had dispatched 


this business, a Latin Bible was ordered to be 
set forth, and in his majesty's general preface he 
addresses the pious reader, in the following strain. 
" Nos itaque considerantes id erga Deum officii, 
quo suscepisse cognoscimur, ut in regno simus 
sicut anima in corpore, et sol in mundo, utque 
loco Dei judicium exerceamus in regno nostro, 
et omnia in potestate habentes, quoad jurisdic- 
tionem, ipsam etiam ecclesiam vice Dei sedulo 
regamus, ac tueamur, et discipline ejus, sive 
augeatur, aut solvatur, nos ei rationem reddituri 
simus, qui nobis earn credidit, et in eo Dei vicem 
agentes, Deique habentes imaginem, quid aliud 
vel cogitare vel in animum indue ere potuimus, 
quam ut eodem confugeremus, ubi certo discen- 
dum esset, ne quid aliud vel ipsi faceremus, vel 
faciendum aliis praescriberemus, quam quod ab 
hac ipsa Dei lege ne vel transversum quidem 
digitum aberrare convinci queat." 

And farther, to show how much he triumphed 
in this new style and title, he some time after 
caused a medal to be struck, where on one side 
is to be seen his effigies half faced, in his usual 
bonnet, fur gown, and collar of rubies, with the 
following inscription engraved in a double 
circle : 


SUPREMUM." And on the reverse, 


H. R. 








LONDINI 1545. 

The late-mentioned statute however had no 
penalty annexed, and was therefore insufficient 
to affect the life of Sir Thomas More. For this 
reason another act was passed in the same ses- 
sion, by which it was made high treason for any 
person " maliciously to wish, will, or desire by 
words or writing, to deprive the king's most 
royal person, the queen, or her heirs apparent, 
or any of them, of their dignity, title, and 
name," &c. And thus upon Mr. Rich's evidence, 
that Sir Thomas More should say, the parlia- 
ment could not make the king supreme head of 
the church, he was declared to be within the 
statute, and was pronounced guilty of high- 

But to return to the subject of the following 


book. To make it as useful as might be, I have 
been at the pains to compare it with the several 
Lives of Sir Thomas More, which have been 
given us by others, and have made references in 
the margin to the several places where the like 
fact is related. The most considerable of these 
is Mr. Roper's Life of Sir Thomas More, pub- 
lished by Mr. Hearne, at Oxford, in 1716, and 
Dr. Stapleton's Vita Tho. Mori, &c., which is 
part of his book entitled, De tribus Thomis, 
edit. Duac. 1588, and Col. Agripp. 1599. And 
I may safely affirm, there is no circumstance of 
any moment taken notice of by either of these, 
that is not to be met with in the book before us. 
Mr. Hoddesdon's History is less to be accounted 
of; it is a bare abstract taken from our author, 
and the two writers we have mentioned above. 
But that the reader might be deprived of no 
satisfaction, it is also referred to amongst the 


No. III. 



[These lines are found in the printed copy of the Life, and 
also in Mr. Singer's manuscript.] 

WHO with as curious care should view 

Each virtue of thy breast, 
As was thy face perused by him, 

Whose pencil it exprest ; 
With ease might see, much to admire, 

But hard to put in shapes ; 
As Zeuxis could express to life 

The fruitful bunch of grapes ; 
He sooner should his own life end, 

Than he should finish thine, 
Such store of matter would arise 

And gems of virtue shine. 
There must he draw a brow, 

Of shamefastness and grace, 
Then two bright eyes, of learning and 

Religion, therewith place : 


And then a nose of honour must 

Be reared, breathing sweet fame ; 
Two rosy cheeks of martyrdom, 

With lilies of good name ; 
A golden mouth for all men pleads, 

But only for himself; 
A chin of temperance, closely shaved 

From care of worldly pelf. 
The more that he shall look into, 

The more he leaves unviewed, 
And still more shows of noble worth, 

Wherewith he was endued. 
But lo ! the fatal axe upreared, 

And at his very chin, 
By envy hath a severance made, 

That More might not be seen. 

More like a saint lived he, most worthy martyr 

ended : 
More, fit for heaven, which now he hath, whereto 

his whole life tended. 


No. IV. 


Johannes Morns Dominus Manerii de More in 
libertate Ducatus Lancastrian, Anglice vocati 
More Place, in parochia de North Mimms, prope 
Sanctum Albanium Eques auratus ; apud West- 
monasterium regii concessus Judex, obiit setatis 
suae 77 anno regni 22 H. 8, anno Domini 1530. 

Thomas Moras Johannis Mori unicus films et 
haeres aetatis SU33 26, Janam aetatis 21, maximam 
natu filiarum Johannis Colte de Newe Hall in 
comitatu Essex duxit uxorem anno 20 H. 7, 1505. 
Postea Eques auratus, Dominus Cancellarius 
Angliae 1530 : decollatus setatis suae 55 anno 27 
H. 8. 1535. 

Johannes Morus Londinensis armiger Thomae 
Mori et Janae unicus filius aetatis 19 diLiit uxorem 
Annam Cresacrem Eboracensem aetatis 18 anno 
21 H. 8, 1529. Ille decessit aetatis suae 37 anno 
primo Edwardi 6. Ilia obiit aetatis suae 66 anno 
20 Elizabeths 1577. 


Anna Cresacris fuit filia et haeres Edwardi Cres- 
acris ar. haeredis manerii de Baronburgh in liber- 
tate Ducatus Lancastrlce vocati Baronburgh 
Halle prope Doncastrum in Comitatu Ebor. 
Edwardus obiit aetatis suae 27 anno 4 H. 8, 1512. 
Quae Anna natajfazY apud Baronburgh Hall anno 
3 H. 8, et mortua est ibidem aetatis suae 66 anno 
20 Elizabeths, 1577. 

Margarita Jilia Thomae Mori Equitis aurati 
et Janae predictorum anno Domini 1530 uxor 
Gulielmi Roperi de Eltham in Com. Cant. Ar. 

Elizabetha Jilia Thoma Mori Equitis aurati et 
Jance predictorum uxor Johannis Dancaei ar. filii et 
haeredis apparentis Johannis Dancaei equitis 

Cecilia Jilia Thomce Mori Equitis aurati et 
Jance predictorum aetatis 21 uxor Egidii Heronis 

Anna unica filia Johannis Mori ar. et Annas 
predictorum quam Johannes West duxit in uxorem. 

Thomas Morns aetatis 16 Edwardus Morus 
setatis 11. Et Thomas Morus junior astatis 9: 
Ac etiam Anna aetatis 6, anno primo regni Edw. 
6, anno Domini 1547. 

Thomas Morus ar. primogenitusj//w,s et heres 
Johannis Mori ar. et Annae, natus est in Chelseth 
in Com. Midd. prope Londinum anno 23 H. 8, 
1531, uxorem duxit Mariam Scrope aetatis 19 
anno 6 Edv. 6, 1553. 


Maria Scrope predicta fuit tertia et minima 
natu filiarum Johannis Scrope ar. defunct! aetatis 
suae .... anno primo Edv. 6,, 1547, unici fratris 
Henrici Domini Scrope de Boltonia in libertate 
RichmundisB in Com. Ebor. Maria nata est in 
Hambletonia in Com. Buck, anno 25 H. 8, 1534. 

Johannes et Christophorus Cresacrus maximus 
et minimus natu quatuor filiorum Thomae Mori 
ar. et Marise nati in Baronburgh predicto. Jo- 
hannes Morus aetatis 36, 1593. Christophorus 
Cresacrus aetatis 21, 1593. 

Thomas Morus ar. predictus aetatis 62 ; et 
Maria uxor ejus predicta aetatis 59 habentes 
superstites filios quatuor viz. Johannem aetatis 
36 ; Thomam aetatis 27 ; Henricum aetatis 26 et 
Christ op riorum Cresacrum Morum aetatis 21 ; 
et filias sex viz. Annam aetatis 39 ; Margaritam 
aetatis 37 ; Mariam aetatis 34 ; Janam setatis 31 ; 
Catherinam aetatis 29 ; et Gratiam aetatis 25, 
anno regni Elizabethae 35, anno Domini 1593, 
anno mundi 5597. 

Johannes Morus Eques auratus unus ex judi- 
cibus Angliae aetatis 77, 1530. 

Thomas Morus Eques auratus Dominus Can- 
cellarius Angliae aetatis 50, 1530. 

Johannes Morus armiger aetatis 20, 1530. 

Anna uxor Johannis Mori ar. aetatis 19, 1530. 


Tres filiae predict! Thomae Mori equitis 
aurati : Margarita Ropera aetatis 23, 1530. 
Elizabetha Dancaea aetatis 22, 1530 : Cecilia 
Heron aetatis 21, 1530. 

Thomas Morns armiger aetatis 62, 1593. 

Maria Scrope uxor Thomae Mori ar. aetatis 
59, 1593. 

Johannes Moms aetatis 36, 1593. 


No. V. 











HOWSOEVER (in these wretched days) the dedica- 
tion of books is grown into a wretched respect ; 
because the inducements look awry sometimes 
from virtue, pointing at ostentation (which is 
gross), or at flattery (which is more base), 
or else at gain, which is the most sordid of all 
other : yet (worthy Sir,) I beseech you be pleased 
better to conceive of this present ; for the in- 
ducements which have drawn me to this bold- 
ness, carry (I might say a noble, but I dare be 
bold to say) an honest countenance : to omit the 
excellency of the work (yet unparalleled in that 
nature) or the noble parts of the more excellent 


author (whose remembrance is a mirror to all 
succeeding nobility), both which might challenge 
Caesar for a patron : yet when I look into your 
honourable pedigree, and find you the undoubted 
heir of his blood, methought it was a theft of 
the worst nature, to give to another the inherit- 
ance of his virtue, and I might as well take from 
you the lands of the honourable and ancient 
family of Cresacre (with which God and your 
right hath endowed you), as bestow upon a 
stranger this glorious commonwealth, to which 
your own blood, your ancestors' virtue, and my 
duty must necessarily entail you. This con- 
sideration, when you please to take to your 
memory, I doubt not but it will much lessen my 
presumption, and you will out of the goodness 
of your own virtue think, since it is my fortune 
to bestow upon him the new edition, I could not 
with good manners, but bring him to kiss the 
hand of his true owner, wishing that as this 
book is eternal for the virtue, and shall live 
whilst any book hath being ; so your name and 
goodness may continue amongst us, ever- 
flourishing and unwithered, so long as the 
sun and moon endure th. 

Your Worship's 

ever to be commanded, 


No. VI. 


SIR THOMAS had issue by his first wife, Jane the 
daughter of John Cowlt of Cowlt-Hall in Essex, 
three daughters, and one son named John, who, 
being little better than an idiot, (as 'tis said) 
took to wife in his father's life-time, Anne, 
daughter and sole heir of Edward Cresacre of 
Baronburgh in Yorkshire, by whom he had issue 
(1.) Thomas, (right heir of his father and grand- 
father) who had thirteen children, of which five 
were sons. The four elder lived in voluntary 
contempt and loathed the world before the world 
fawned on them. The first' was Thomas, born 
anew and baptized on that day of the year 
(6 July) on which Sir Thomas suffered death, &c.* 
The second son of this said John More (son of 
Sir Thomas} was Augustine, who died unmarried. 

* The account of this Thomas has been given in the Preface. 


The third was Thomas the second, or Thomas junior, 
born at Chc/sey, 8 Aug. 23 Hen. 8, who, when he 
came to man's estate degenerated from the Catholic 
religion and lived and died a professed minister, leav- 
ing issue several children, of whom the eldest 
Cresacre More (who was born at Baronburgh in 
Yorkshire, 3 July, 1572,) lived afterwards in no 
commendable fashion. The fourth son Edward, 
born ajter Sir Thomas his death and havi?ig not his 
blessing as Thomas (the first,) and Augustine had, 
degenerated from the Catholic religion. The fifth 
was Bartholomew who died young of the plague 
in London. 


No. VII. 

BASILEA." 4tO. 1517. 

[This remarkable passage, which occurs at p. 82, appears to 
have been overlooked by the writers on the Life of More.] 


" Sed hoc in loco, ut omni respondeatur 
objection!, illud vos monebo, neminem unquam 
extitisse, qui non ex verbis collegerit omnes 
sententias, excepto uno Thoma Moro nostro 
Nam is e contrario, ex sententiis colligit verbal 
et praecipue in Graecis intelligendis et transfe- 
rendis. Cetemm hoc non est a grammatica 
usquequaque alienum, sed paulo plus quam 
grammaticum, id est, ingeniosum. Est enim 
MORO ingenium plusquam humanum. Doctrina 
vero non excellens modo, sed et varia, adeo ut 
quocunque te vert as, nihil nescire videatur. 
Quantum autem Graece sciat, testis sit Incre- 
dulus, quern Paulus Bombasius valde laudat. 

B B 


Porro facundia non incomparabilis tantum, sed 
et duplex, cum in sua, turn in aliena lingua, id 
est, Latina. Jam adeo non vulgariter facetus 
est, et urbanus, ut leporem ipsum ei patrem, et 
facetiam matrem fuisse judices. Et interdum, 
hoc est, quando res postulat, bonos imitatur 
cocos, et omnia acri perfundit aceto. Habet et 
nasum, quum vult, etiam inter nasutissimos* 
quern tain artificiose etiam detrahit, ut eo de- 
tracto, nullum faciei desit lineamentum. In 
philosophia nulla secta est, quam non aliqua ex 
parte probat, et ut quaeque maxime excellit, ita 
earn maxime admiratur. Sed uni praecipue 
(quod faciunt fere omnes) se addixit, id est, 
Democriticae. De illo autem Democrito loquor, 
qui omnes res humanas risit, quern non modo 
diligentissime est imitatus, verum etiam una syl- 
laba superavit. Nam ut ille humana omnia 
ridenda censuit, ita hie deridenda. Unde Ri- 
chardus Paceus, Morum amicissimum suum, 
Democriti filium, vel successorem, per jocum 
appellare solet. Is denique magnum bellum 
istis indixit, qui nee vera, nee verisimilia, atque 
a personis suis alienissima loquuntur. Quale 
contigit, quum audiret duos Theologos Scotistas. 
ex his qui graviores habentur, et pulpita conte- 
runt, (quique in te, O Colete, satis non indocte 
modo, sed etiam impie insurrexerunt, quum di- 
ceres salutaiem pacem, pernicioso bello longe 
esse praeferendam.) Quum audiret, inquam, serio 


affirmantes inter se, Arcturum regem (quern ali- 
qui natum negant, aliqui nunquam obiisse, sed 
nescio quo disparuisse contendunt) togam sibi ex 
gigantum barbis, quos in praelio occiderat, confe- 
cisse. Et quum Morus interrogasset illos, qua 
ratione hoc posset fieri, turn senior, composite 
in gravitate vultu, Ratio, inquit, O puer, est 
aperta, et causa evidens, quod scilicet cutis 
hominis mortui mirifice extenditur. Alter hanc 
rationem auditam, non solum approbavit, sed 
etiam ut subtilem et Scoticam, admiratus est. 
Turn Morus adhuc puer, Hoc, inquit, semper 
antea aeque mihi incognitum fuit, atque illud est 
notissimum, alterum ex vobis hircum mulgere, 
alterum cribrum subjicere. Quod dictum quum 
perciperet illos non intejlexisse, ridens sibi, et 
eos deridens, abivit. Hoc unum (quod dolenter 
refero) Morum meum persequitur infortunium, 
quod quoties peritissime et acutissime loquitur 
inter vestrqsleucomitratos patres, in sua ipsorum, 
quam ipse quoque callet scientia, toties illi eum 
damnant, et puerilia omnia quap dicit, nominant, 
non quod revera eum damnandum censeant, aut 
aliquid puerile audiant, sed quod mirabile inge- 
nium ei invideant, et alias, quarum ipsi ignari 
sunt, scientias, quod denique puer (ut ipsi vocant) 
sapientia senibus longe antecellit. Sed base hac- 
tenus de Moro, ad rem meam jam revertar. 


No. VIII. 



[From " A Collection of Letters," by L. Howard, D.D. 4to. 


RIGHT honorable, and my especyall gud 
Maister Secretarye : In my most humble wyse 
I recommend me unto your gud mastershypp, 
knowlegyng myself to be most deply boundyn 
to your gud maistershypp, for your monyfold 
gudnesse, and lovyng favor, both before the 
tyme, and yet dayly, now also shewyd towards 
my poure husband and me. I pray Almyghtye 
God continew your gudness so styll, for there- 
upon hangith the greatest part of my poure 
husbands comfort and myne. 

The cause of my wrytyng at this tyme, is to 
certyfye your especiall gud maistershypp of my 
great and extreme necessyte, which ov' and 
besydes the charge of myn owne house, doe pay 
weekly 15 shillings for the bord-wages of my 
poure husband and his servant ; for the mayn- 
taining whereof, I have been compellyd, of verey 


necessyte, to sell part of myn apparell, for lack 
of other substance to make money of. Where- 
fore my most humble petition and sewte to your 
maistershipp, at this tyme, is to desyre your 
maistershypp's favorable advyse and counsell, 
whether I may be so bold to attende uppon the 
King's most gracyouse Highnes. I trust theyr 
is no dowte in the cause of my impediment ; 
for the yonge man, being a ploughman, had 
ben dyseased with the aggue by the space of 
3 years before that he departed. And besides 
this, it is now fyve weeks syth he departed, and 
no other person dyseased in the house sith that 
tyme ; wherefore I most humblye beseche your 
especyal gud maistershypp (as my only trust is, 
and ells knowe not what to doe, but utterly in 
this world to be undone) for the love of God to 
consyder the premisses ; and thereuppon, of your 
most subundant gudnes, to shewe your most 
favorable helpe to the comfortyng of my poure 
husband and me, in this our great hevynes, 
extreme age, and necessyte. And thus we, and 
all ours, shall dayly, duryng our lyves, pray to 
God for the prosperous successe of your ryght 
honorable dygnyte. 

By your poure contynuall oratryx, 

To the Ryght honorable, and her 
especyall gud maister, Maister Secretarye. 


No. IX. 


1480 Birth at his father's house in Milk-street. 
1487-1494 At school at St. Anthony's and living 

in the family of Cardinal Morton. 
1495-1497 These probably the two years spent 

at Oxford. 

1498 Probable date of his admission at New Inn. 

1499 Probable date of his removal to Lincoln's 


1500 October. Death of Cardinal Morton. 
1502 In parliament. He opposes a grant of 

money to the king. 

1505 Having lived some years among the Car- 
thusians, he marries Elizabeth Colt, 
his first wife, and practises the law. 

1509 April 22. Death of Henry VII., and ac- 

cession of Henry VIII. 

1510 Birth of his only son, and youngest child, 

John More. 

1511 About this time appointed to an office in 

the city of London. 

1512 Reader at Lincoln's Inn. 

1514 Probable year of his second marriage. 


1515 Reader a second time at Lincoln's Inn. 

1516 Diplomatic mission to Flanders, with 

Tunstall. In this year he is supposed 
to have written his Utopia, of which 
there were two impressions before 

1517 Retained in the great prize question. 

Made Master of the Requests, a Privy 
Counsellor, and knighted. Luther 
published against the Indulgence. 

1518 Treasurer of the Exchequer. 

1523 April 5. Chosen Speaker of the House 
of Commons. Publishes against Lu- 
ther, under the name of Ross. 

1525 Concludes a treaty with the Commission- 
ers of the Regent of France. Made 
Chancellor of the Dutchy of Lan- 

1527 Again Embassador in Flanders and 

1529 Embassador with Tunstall at Cambray. 

In Michaelmas Term made Lord High 
Chancellor, on the disgrace of Wolsey. 
Marriage of his son with Anne 

1530 November. Death of Cardinal Wolsey. 

Death of Sir John More. 

1532 May 16. Surrenders up his office of 



1534 April. In this month Anne Bullen pro- 

claimed queen, Elizabeth Barton exe- 
cuted, and Sir Thomas More com- 
mitted to the Tower. 

1535 May 7. Arraigned. 

July 1, Thursday. Tried, convicted, and 

July 6, Tuesday. Executed on Tower- 


Thomas \Vhltc, I'li 
Craue Court.